Fibropapillomatosis (FP) is a tumor-forming sea turtle disease that mainly affects juvenile green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in coastal foraging sites. The cause of FP is unclear, but likely involves the putative pathogen chelonid herpesvirus 5 (ChHV5). The overall dynamics of this disease are poorly understood, in part due to the difficulty of inferring disease and infection statuses of turtles without evidence of FP. In this study, I investigated the FP disease system in juvenile green turtles of the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), Florida, USA, to better understand disease and pathogen dynamics. First, I developed a hierarchical model for predicting FP development and disease state progression. The results of the hierarchical model estimated > 99% of juvenile green turtles in the IRL developed FP, indicating that nearly every individual in the IRL is affected by this disease. The model also suggested that turtles quickly developed FP upon recruitment to the IRL and then recovered at different rates, with most completely recovering before emigrating from the IRL as they mature. Second, I assessed the viability of using qPCR of blood and skin samples to assess ChHV5 infection dynamics. I found very low prevalence of ChHV5 infections in blood (1.4% positive) and skin (6.5% positive) samples, and high prevalence in tumor samples (89.7% positive). Considering the high prevalence of FP in the IRL, and the high detection prevalence of ChHV5 from tumor samples, qPCR testing of blood and skin samples was ineffective for identifying ChHV5 infection status of individual turtles.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Kelley, Jake, "Fibropapillomatosis and Chelonid Herpesvirus 5 Dynamics in Juvenile Green Turtles of the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, USA" (2022). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 1031.