White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) is an important cause of mortality and economic losses in shrimp farming. Although WSSV-induced mortality is virus dose dependent and WSSV infection does not necessarily lead to mortality, the relationships between virus-particle dose, infection and mortality have not been analysed quantitatively. Here, we explored WSSV dose–response by a combination of experiments, modelling and meta-analysis. We performed dose–response experiments in Penaeus vannamei postlarvae, recorded host mortality and detected WSSV infection. When we fitted infection models to these data, two models—differing in whether they incorporated heterogeneous host susceptibility to the virus or not—were supported for two independent experiments. To determine the generality of these results, we reanalysed published data sets and then performed a meta-analysis. We found that WSSV dose–response kinetics is indeed variable over experiments. We could not clearly identify which specific infection model has the most support by meta-analysis, but we argue that these results also are most concordant with a model incorporating varying levels of heterogeneous host susceptibility to WSSV. We have identified suitable models for analysing WSSV dose–response, which can elucidate the most basic virus–host interactions and help to avoid underestimating WSSV infection at low virus doses.
- white spot syndrome virus