DAO 122:125-136 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03072

Development of quantitative PCR assay for detection of the trematode parasite Proctoeces maculatus in the blue mussel Mytilus edulis

Kelly N. Markowitz, Jason D. Williams, Maureen K. Krause*

Department of Biology, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY 11549-1140, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The digenean trematode Proctoeces maculatus is an important parasite of the blue mussel Mytilus edulis. The parasite reduces mussel quality and yield, negatively impacting mussel aquaculture efforts. Typically, the trematode is detected by visual observation. To provide a better diagnostic tool able to detect this parasite at any life stage and at low intensities, we designed a species-specific molecular assay to detect P. maculatus in M. edulis tissue. Primers targeting the 18S nuclear ribosomal DNA (rDNA) from P. maculatus were used to develop an end-point polymerase chain reaction assay and a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay. Analytical specificity of the assays was demonstrated using DNA from 4 other digenean trematodes. The qPCR assay was linear from 6.79 × 102 to 6.79 × 107 copies of the cloned target DNA and had a conservative detection limit of 68 copies. The qPCR assay detected single cercariae, and the number of isolated cercariae was linearly correlated with the threshold cycle (CT). Diagnostic sensitivity of the PCR-based methods was 100%. The assays also detected the parasite in 6 additional samples from the 57 tested through microscopy. We used the assays to verify the presence of encapsulated sporocysts in the mantle and to document infected mussels from Dover, New Hampshire, extending the previously described northern range of the species. Thus, this work has important implications for detection of the parasite in aquaculture and in monitoring its potential spread with climate change.


KEY WORDS: Digenean · Aquaculture · Bivalve · Marine · Northwest Atlantic


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Cite this article as: Markowitz KN, Williams JD, Krause MK (2016) Development of quantitative PCR assay for detection of the trematode parasite Proctoeces maculatus in the blue mussel Mytilus edulis. Dis Aquat Org 122:125-136. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03072

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