Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

A virological investigation into declining woylie populations

Carlo Pacioni A G , Cheryl A. Johansen B , Timothy J. Mahony C , Mark A. O’Dea D , Ian D. Robertson A , Adrian F. Wayne E and Trevor Ellis F

A School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia.

B Arbovirus Surveillance and Research Laboratory, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia.

C The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, Centre of Animal Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia.

D Animal Health Laboratories, Department of Agriculture and Food WA, South Perth, WA 6151, Australia.

E Department of Parks and Wildlife, Science Division, Manjimup, WA 6258, Australia.

F 30 St Leonards Street, Mosman Park, WA 6012, Australia.

G Corresponding author. Email: carlo.pacioni@gmail.com

Australian Journal of Zoology 61(6) 446-453 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/ZO13077
Submitted: 27 September 2013  Accepted: 5 February 2014   Published: 6 March 2014

Abstract

The woylie (Bettongia penicillata ogilbyi) is a critically endangered small Australian marsupial that is in a state of accelerated population decline for reasons that are currently unknown. The aim of the present study was to elucidate the involvement of several viral pathogens through strategic serological testing of several wild woylie populations. Testing for antibodies against the Wallal and Warrego serogroup of orbiviruses, Macropod herpesvirus 1 and Encephalomyocarditis virus in woylie sera was undertaken through virus neutralisation tests. Moreover, testing for antibodies against the the alphaviruses Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus and the flaviviruses Kunjin virus and Murray Valley encephalitis virus was undertaken through virus neutralisation tests and ELISA mainly because of the interest in the epidemiology of these important zoonoses as it was considered unlikely to be the cause of the decline. Between 15 and 86 samples were tested for each of the four sites in south-western Australia (Balban, Keninup, Warrup and Karakamia). Results indicated no exposure to any of the viral pathogens investigated, indicating that all populations are currently naïve and may be at risk if these pathogens were to be introduced.

Graphical Abstract Image


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