DAO 65:257-267 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/dao065257

Study of perkinsosis in the carpet shell clam Tapes decussatus in Galicia (NW Spain). II. Temporal pattern of disease dynamics and association with clam mortality

Antonio Villalba*, Sandra M. Casas, Carmen López, María J. Carballal

Centro de Investigacións Mariñas, Consellería de Pesca e Asuntos Marítimos, Xunta de Galicia, Apartado 13, 36620 Vilanova de Arousa, Spain

ABSTRACT: Temporal dynamics of the infection by Perkinsus olseni in a clam (Tapes decussatus) bed was studied over 5 yr (March 1996 to December 2000). Diagnostic techniques were compared to assess their suitability for epizootiological purposes. A technique based on incubation of 2 gill lamellae in Ray’s fluid thioglycollate medium (RFTM) was more sensitive, quicker and cheaper than examination of histological sections. Incubation of the whole-clam soft tissues in RFTM allowed detection of very light infections that were not detected with incubation of only 2 gill lamellae. Nevertheless, the correlation between the infection intensity estimated by both RFTM incubations was high. Infection intensity was significantly and positively correlated with clam size/age. No infected clam smaller than 20 mm was found. There was an annual pattern of infection involving lower mean infection intensity and prevalence in winter and higher values for both variables from spring to autumn, with 2 main annual peaks in spring and late summer–early autumn. This temporal pattern was significantly associated with the seawater temperature. The annual spring peak of infection intensity occurred when seawater temperature was around 15°C. Monthly mortality in the clam bed peaked in spring and summer—after peaks of P. olseni infection intensity and concurrently with high seawater temperature. A comparison of percentage mortality between clams from 2 sources (a perkinsosis-affected and a non-affected area) placed in the same clam bed revealed significantly higher mortality in the clams originating from the perkinsosis-affected area.

KEY WORDS: Perkinsus olseni · Tapes decussatus · Infection dynamics · Epizootiology · Diagnosis · Disease · Mortality · Temperature

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