Gopherus polyphemus, commonly known as the Gopher Tortoise, is a dryland reptile native to the southeastern United States. It is commonly a resident of longleaf pine and dry oak sand hill habitats. It is considered a keystone species because they dig deep burrows that provide shelter to them as well as many other animals. Habitat loss, fragmentation, and disease are major threats and have caused this species to be federally listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Disease is a major threat to the gopher tortoise’s survival, and with declining populations, the need to investigate pathogens is crucial. Herpesvirus, is known to contribute to upper respiratory tract diseases (URTD) in G. polyphemus and is the primary focus of this project. Due to high mutation rates in the virus, a modified version of PCR, nested PCR, was conducted on eye and nose swabs and blood samples obtained from G. polyphemus to detect the presence of the alpha herpesvirus pathogen. The positive samples were then sent for genetic sequencing to confirm the occurrence of the pathogen. The detectability of Herpesvirus in eye and nose swabs was compared to blood and lymph samples and statistical tests concluded that both sample types had the same detectability.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Sciences
Orlando (Main) Campus
Saldanha, Joanne, "Infection Dynamics of Herpesvirus in Gopher Tortoises" (2018). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 376.