Open Access Short Report

Mud crab susceptibility to disease from white spot syndrome virus is species-dependent

Naraporn Somboonna125*, Seksan Mangkalanan3, Attasit Udompetcharaporn2, Chartchai Krittanai3, Kallaya Sritunyalucksana12 and TW Flegel124

Author Affiliations

1 Shrimp-Virus Interaction Laboratory, National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, National Science and Technology Development Agency, Klong Luang, Pathumthani 12120, Thailand

2 Center of Excellence for Shrimp Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Mahidol University, Rama 6 Road, Bangkok 10400, Thailand

3 Institute of Molecular Biosciences, Mahidol University, Salaya Campus, Nakhonpathom 73170, Thailand

4 Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, Rama 6 Road, Bangkok 10400, Thailand

5 Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok 10330, Thailand

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BMC Research Notes 2010, 3:315  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-315

Published: 20 November 2010



Based on a report for one species (Scylla serrata), it is widely believed that mud crabs are relatively resistant to disease caused by white spot syndrome virus (WSSV). We tested this hypothesis by determining the degree of susceptibility in two species of mud crabs, Scylla olivacea and Scylla paramamosain, both of which were identified by mitochondrial 16 S ribosomal gene analysis. We compared single-dose and serial-dose WSSV challenges on S. olivacea and S. paramamosain.


In a preliminary test using S. olivacea alone, a dose of 1 × 106 WSSV copies/g gave 100% mortality within 7 days. In a subsequent test, 17 S. olivacea and 13 S. paramamosain were divided into test and control groups for challenge with WSSV at 5 incremental, biweekly doses starting from 1 × 104 and ending at 5 × 106 copies/g. For 11 S. olivacea challenged, 3 specimens died at doses between 1 × 105 and 5 × 105 copies/g and none died for 2 weeks after the subsequent dose (1 × 106 copies/g) that was lethal within 7 days in the preliminary test. However, after the final challenge on day 56 (5 × 106 copies/g), the remaining 7 of 11 S. olivacea (63.64%) died within 2 weeks. There was no mortality in the buffer-injected control crabs. For 9 S. paramamosain challenged in the same way, 5 (55.56%) died after challenge doses between 1 × 104 and 5 × 105 copies/g, and none died for 2 weeks after the challenge dose of 1 × 106 copies/g. After the final challenge (5 × 106 copies/g) on day 56, no S. paramamosain died during 2 weeks after the challenge, and 2 of 9 WSSV-infected S. paramamosain (22.22%) remained alive together with the control crabs until the end of the test on day 106. Viral loads in these survivors were low when compared to those in the moribund crabs.


S. olivacea and S. paramamosain show wide variation in response to challenge with WSSV. S. olivacea and S. paramamosain are susceptible to white spot disease, and S. olivacea is more susceptible than S. paramamosain. Based on our single-challenge and serial challenge results, and on previous published work showing that S. serrata is relatively unaffected by WSSV infection, we propose that susceptibility to white spot disease in the genus Scylla is species-dependent and may also be dose-history dependent. In practical terms for shrimp farmers, it means that S. olivacea and S. paramamosain may pose less threat as WSSV carriers than S. serrata. For crab farmers, our results suggest that rearing of S. serrata would be a better choice than S. paramamosain or S. olivacea in terms of avoiding losses from seasonal outbreaks of white spot disease.