DAO 46:139-145 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/dao046139

A Vibrio splendidus strain is associated with summer mortality of juvenile oysters Crassostrea gigas in the Bay of Morlaix (North Brittany, France)

A. Lacoste1, F. Jalabert1, S. Malham1, A. Cueff1, F. Gélébart1, C. Cordevant2, M. Lange2, S. A. Poulet1,*

1Station Biologique de Roscoff, Centre National de la Recherche (CNRS), Université Paris VI, 29682 Roscoff, France
2Institut Pasteur de Lille, 1 rue du Professeur Calmette, 59019 Lille, France
*Corresponding author. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Juvenile oysters Crassostrea gigas cultured in the Bay of Morlaix (France) have suffered unexplained summer mortalities for over a decade. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that a bacterial pathogen could be responsible for this phenomenon. A first attempt failed to isolate a bacterial pathogen from moribund or weak oysters. Only non-pathogenic, probably opportunistic, bacteria were isolated. As an alternative approach, we focused on oysters presenting reduced stress-response capacities (determined by circulating noradrenaline measurements), a characteristic of juvenile oysters entering an early phase of the disease. Cultures of bacterial isolates on TCBS plates revealed that a Vibrio strain was present in diseased oysters and scarce or absent in healthy oysters. Experimental infections indicated that this Vibrio can cause mortalities of juvenile oysters when injected at concentrations ranging from 104 to 108 CFU oyster-1. Similarly to the summer mortality disease, the Vibrio isolate caused higher mortalities at higher temperatures; apparently, it could not be transmitted horizontally, it did not affect adult oysters and it induced stress-response dysfunctions in juvenile oysters. Phenotypic and genotypic characterizations identified the pathogen as Vibrio splendidus. Taken together, the present results satisfy Koch¹s postulate and suggest that this bacterial strain is probably responsible for the juvenile oyster summer mortalities in the Bay of Morlaix.

KEY WORDS: Crassostrea gigas · Summer mortality · Juveniles · Vibrio splendidus · Stress · Noradrenaline

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