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What is PaV1?

  • Panulirus argus Virus 1 (PaV1) was discovered infecting juvenile Caribbean spiny lobsters in 2000
  • PaV1 was first discovered in the Florida Keys but has since been reported throughout much of the Caribbean Sea.
  • PaV1 is a pathogenic virus and typically lethal within weeks or months for infected juvenile lobsters, but declines among larger juveniles and adults.
  • Adult lobsters can be infected, but are typically asymptomatic.
  • Documented natural modes of transmission include contact, ingestion, and waterborne, for the smallest lobster size classes.
  • In some months up to 30% of the postlarval lobsters arriving in Florida from offshore are infected with PaV1, but are asymptomatic.
  • The fluctuating monthly pattern of PaV1 prevalence in postlarvae arriving in the Florida Keys suggests that there is a discontinuous supply of larvae from infected and non-infected Caribbean sources “upstream” of the Florida Keys, which probably receives larvae from throughout the Caribbean.
  • This scenario is consistent with genetic studies and modeling that demonstrate the strong oceanographic connection between lobster populations in the Florida Keys and the greater Caribbean.
Spiny lobsters heavily infected with PaV1 become lethargic and incapable of rapid escape maneuvers.
TEM of PaV1 viral particles.
Juvenile Caribbean spiny lobster heavily infected with PaV1. Note the fouling of the carapace.
Diseased vs. Healthy Comparison: The lobster on the left in this shot is healthy while the one on the right is in the last stages of PaV1. During this time the hemolymph turns from clear/amber to white, as you can see in the middle syringes.

Above: Video about PaV1 from a National Science Foundation “Science Nation”. Article on PaV1 here.

PaV1 Prevalence

The prevalence of PaV1 varies among regions of the Caribbean, but is most prevalent in the northwest Caribbean (e.g., Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Florida). Prevalence of PaV1 has remained steady for over a decade (mean: 5 – 7%) at sites in the Florida Keys, but local prevalence can reach > 60% at some locations. Moreover, this mean prevalence only accounts for visible infections. When measured using a PCR assay, prevalence is often an order of magnitude higher.

2010-2011 PaV1 Prevalence Map

This map shows the prevalence of PaV1 (Panulirus argus Virus 1) among adult lobsters from around the Caribbean. All samples were collected between 2009-2011. Samples were hemolyph (blood), analyzed for infection using PCR. This research was funded through a research grant from the US National Science Foundation and Florida Sea Grant.

The PaV1 Research Team

Since our discovery of the disease, we have taken a multi-disciplinary approach to the research on the P. argus – PaV1 pathosystem by: developing molecular techniques for detecting the virus; examining its pathology in lobsters; testing its possible modes of transmission, and by documenting how PaV1 affects lobster behavior and juvenile lobster population dynamics. With regard to the effect of PaV1 on the Florida lobster fishery, we have determined that the presence of infected lobsters in traps can reduce trap catch and may increase transmission of disease within the commercial lobster fishery.

Disease Ecology

Pathobiology & Molecular Biology

Oceanographic & Population Modeling


Clark, AC, Behringer, DC, Small, JM, and TB Waltzek. (2018). Partial Validation of a TaqMan Real-Time Quantitative PCR Assay for the Detection of Panulirus argus Virus 1. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms.

Kough, AS, Paris, CB, Behringer, DC, and MJ Butler IV. (2015). Modeling the spread and connectivity of waterborne marine pathogens: the case of PaV1 in the Caribbean. ICES Journal of Marine Science 72: i139-i146.

Moss, J, DC Behringer, Shields, JD, Baeza, JA, Aguilar-Perera, A, Bush, PG, Dromer, C, Herrera-Moreno, A, Gittens, L, Matthews, TR, McCord, MR, Schärer, MT, Reynal, L, Truelove, N, Butler IV, MJ. (2013)Distribution, prevalence, and genetic analysis of Panulirus argus Virus I from the Caribbean Sea. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 104: 129-140.

Anderson JR, Behringer DC. (2013). Spatial dynamics in the social lobster Panulirus argus in response to diseased conspecifics. Marine Ecology Progress Series 474: 191-200.

Behringer DC. (2012). Diseases of wild and cultured juvenile crustaceans: insights from below the minimum landing size. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology 110: 225-233.

Behringer DC, Butler IV MJ. (2010). Disease avoidance and its role in shelter competition and predation in Caribbean spiny lobster. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 64: 747-756.

Behringer DC, Butler IV MJ, Shields JD. (2006). Ecology: avoidance of disease in social lobsters. Nature 441: 421.

Behringer DC, Butler IV MJ, Shields JD. (2008). Ecological and physiological effects of PaV1 Infection on the Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argusLatreille). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 359: 26-33.

Behringer DC, Butler MJ IV, Stentiford GD. (2012). Disease effects on lobster fisheries, ecology, and culture: overview of DAO Special 6. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 100: 89-93.

Behringer DC, Butler MJ IV, Shields JD, Moss J. (2012). PaV1 infection in the Florida Spiny Lobster Fishery and its Effects on Trap Function and Disease Transmission. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 69: 136-144.

Behringer DC, Butler MJ IV, Shields JD, Moss J. (2011). Review of Panulirus argus Virus 1 (PaV1) – a decade after its discovery. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 94: 153-160.

Butler IV MJ, Behringer DC, Shields JD. (2008). Transmission of Panulirus argus virus 1 (PaV1) and its effect on the survival of juvenile Caribbean spiny lobster. Disease of Aquatic Organisms 79: 173-182.

Li C, Shields JD. (2007). Primary cell culture of hemocytes from the spiny lobster and their susceptibility to Panulirus argus virus 1 (PaV1). Journal of Invertebrate Pathology 94: 48-55.

Li C, Shields JD, Ratzlaff RE, Butler MJ IV. (2008). Pathology and hematology of the Caribbean spiny lobster experimentally infected with Panulirus argus virus 1 (PaV1). Virus Research 132:104-113.

Li C, Shields JD, Small HJ, Reece KS, Hartwig CL, Cooper R, Ratzlaff RE. (2006). Diagnosis of Panulirus argus virus 1 (PaV1) in the Caribbean spiny lobster using fluorescence in situ hybridization. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 72: 185-192.

Montgomery-Fullerton MM, Cooper RA, Kauffman K, Shields JD, Ratzlaff RE. (2007). Detection of Panulirus argus virus 1 by PCR in Caribbean spiny lobsters. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 76: 1-6.

Moss J, Behringer DC, Shields JD, Baeza JA, Aguilar-Perera A, Bush PG, Dromer C, Herrera-Moreno A, Gittens L, Matthews TR, McCord MR, Schärer MT, Reynal L, Truelove N, Butler IV MJ. (2013). Distribution, prevalence, and genetic analysis of Panulirus argus Virus I from the Caribbean Sea. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 104: 129-140.

Moss J, Butler MJ IV, Behringer DC, Shields JD. (2012). Genetic diversity of the Caribbean spiny lobster virus, Panulirus argus virus 1, and the discovery of PaV1 in lobster post-larvae. Aquatic Biology 14: 223-232.

Shields JD, Behringer DC. (2004). A new pathogenic virus in the Caribbean spiny lobster Panulirus argus from the Florida Keys. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 59: 109-118.

Publications on PaV1 from Colleagues at Other Research Labs

Briones-Fourzán P, Baeza-Martínez K, Lozano-Álvarez E. (2009). Nutritional indices of juvenile Caribbean spiny lobsters in a Mexican reef lagoon: Are changes over a 10-year span related to the emergence of Panulirus argus Virus 1 (PaV1)? Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 370:82-88

Briones-Fourzán P, Candia-Zulbarán RI, Negrete-Soto F, Barradas-Ortiz C, Huchin-Mian JP, Lozano-Álvarez E. (2012). Influence of local habitat features on avoidance of disease by Caribbean spiny lobsters in a casita-enhanced bay. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 100: 135-148.

Candia-Zulbarán RI, Briones-Fourzán P, Lozano-Álvarez E. (2012). Variability in clinical prevalence of PaV1 in Caribbean spiny lobsters occupying commercial casitas over a large bay in Mexico. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 100: 125-133.

Cruz-Quintana Y, Silveira-Coffigny R, Rodríguez-Canul R, Vidal-Martínez VM. (2011). First evidence of Panulirus argus virus 1 (PaV1) in spiny lobster from Cuba and a clinical estimation of its prevalence. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 93: 141-147.

Huchin-Mian JP, Briones-Fourzán P, Simá-Álvarez R, Cruz-Quintana Y, Pérez-Vega JA, Lozano-Álvarez E, Pascual-Jiménez C, Rodríguez-Canul R. (2009). Detection of Panulirus argus Virus 1 (PaV1) in exported frozen tails of subadult-adult Caribbean spiny lobsters Panulirus argus. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 86:159-162.

Huchin-Mian JP, Rodríguez-Canul R, Arias-Baňuelos E, Simá-Álvarez R, Briones-Fourzán P, Lozano-Álvarez E. (2008). Presence of Panulirus argus Virus 1 (PaV1) in juvenile spiny lobsters Panulirus argus from the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 79:153-156.

Lozano-Álvarez E, Briones-Fourzán P, Ramírez-Estévez A, Placencia-Sánchez D, Huchin-Mian JP, Rodríguez-Canul R. (2008). Prevalence of Panulirus argusVirus 1 (PaV1) and habitation patterns of healthy and diseased Caribbean spiny lobsters in shelter-limited habitats. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 80: 95-104.

Pascual-Jiménez C, Huchin-Mian JP, Simões Nuno, Briones-Fourzán P, Lozano-Álvarez E, Sánchez-Arteaga A, Pérez-Vega JA, Simá-Álvarez R, Rosas-Vazquez C, Rodríguez-Canul R. (2012). Physiological and immunological characterization of Caribbean spiny lobsters (Panulirus argus) naturally infected with Panulirus argus Virus 1 (PaV1). Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 100: 113-124…