DAO 85:193-197 (2009)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02072

Transmission of the parasitic dinoflagellate Hematodinium sp. infection in blue crabs Callinectes sapidus by cannibalism

Anna N. Walker1,*, Richard F. Lee2, Marc E. Frischer2

1Department of Pathology, Mercer University School of Medicine, Macon, Georgia 31207, USA
2Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, 10 Ocean Science Circle, Savannah, Georgia 31411, USA

ABSTRACT: Infection with the parasitic dinoflagellate Hematodinium sp. can be devastating to blue crab Callinectes sapidus populations. Morbidity and mortality appear to depend on the burden of parasitic organisms. Heavily infected crabs become lethargic and, if not preyed upon, succumb to overwhelming infection. We report on the transmission of Hematodinium sp. into blue crabs that were fed pieces of infected tissues and examined for evidence of infection at time periods from 1 to 48 h and for the general state of their health after 4 d. During the first 16 h after feeding, Hematodinium sp. was found in the gut, followed by large increases in hemolymph hemocytes and the appearance of hemocytic nodules in tissues. By 16 h, the hemocytic nodules appeared poorly circumscribed and disorganized. No nodules were seen in a heavily infected crab after 24 h. By the end of the 48 h after feeding, 73% (11 of 15) of the crabs had shown evidence of infection with Hematodinium sp. Those crabs with infection intensities (Hematodinium sp. as percent of cells in hemolymph) higher than 20% were dead within 4 d.


KEY WORDS: Hematodinium · Callinectes · Blue crab · Dinoflagellate · Disease transmission


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Cite this article as: Walker AN, Lee RF, Frischer ME (2009) Transmission of the parasitic dinoflagellate Hematodinium sp. infection in blue crabs Callinectes sapidus by cannibalism. Dis Aquat Org 85:193-197. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02072

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