DAO 90:69-76 (2010)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02221

Withering syndrome in the abalone Haliotis diversicolor supertexta

Thanitsara Wetchateng1,*, Carolyn S. Friedman2,*,**, Nathan A. Wight2, Pei-Yu Lee3, Ping Hua Teng3, Siriporn Sriurairattana4, Kanokphan Wongprasert1, Boonsirm Withyachumnarnkul1,4

1Department of Anatomy and 4Center of Excellence for Shrimp Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (Centex Shrimp), Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, 272 Rama 6 Rd., Bangkok 10400, Thailand
2School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA
3Institute of Medical Biotechnology, Central Taiwan University of Science and Technology, No. 11, Buzih Lane, Taichung City 40601, Taiwan, ROC
*These two authors contributed equally
**Corresponding author.  ‑Email:

ABSTRACT: Abalone aquaculture is a small but growing industry in Thailand and is based on both the exotic Haliotis diversicolor supertexta and the native H. asinina. Withering syndrome (WS) in abalone is caused by an infection with the Rickettsia-like organism (RLO) ‘Candidatus Xenohaliotis californiensis’ and has been spread to many countries globally. The present study reports the first observation of the WS-RLO agent in the small abalone, H. diversicolor supertexta in Thailand, Taiwan (ROC) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Under light microscopy, the RLO was observed as intracytoplasmic inclusions within epithelial cells lining the post-esophagus and, to a minor extent, the intestine of H. diversicolor. Under transmission electron microscopy, inclusions were characterized as colonies of rod-shaped bacteria, 200 × 1800 nm in size, within a vesicle in the cytoplasm of the infected cell. The RLO from the small abalone bound with WS-RLO-specific in situ hybridization probes and was amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), using primers designed from the 16S rDNA sequence of the original WS-RLO from California, USA. The PCR product of RLO samples from both the PRC and Thailand showed extremely high identity with the California WS-RLO (100 and 99%, respectively). These data combined with the history of abalone movements for aquaculture purposes indicate that RLOs observed in Thailand, Taiwan and the PRC are the WS-RLO that originated from California.


KEY WORDS: Haliotis diversicolor · ‘Candidatus Xenohaliotis californiensis’ · 16S rDNA · Abalone · Withering syndrome · Thailand · Taiwan · People’s Republic of China · California


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Cite this article as: Wetchateng T, Friedman CS, Wight NA, Lee PY and others (2010) Withering syndrome in the abalone Haliotis diversicolor supertexta. Dis Aquat Org 90:69-76. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02221

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