DAO 98:73-84 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02428

Influence of disseminated neoplasia, trematode infections and gametogenesis on surfacing and mortality in the cockle Cerastoderma edule

E. Morgan*, R. M. O’Riordan, T. C. Kelly, S. C. Culloty

Aquaculture and Fisheries Development Centre, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork, Ireland

ABSTRACT: Cerastoderma edule is a widely distributed bivalve mollusc, commercially exploited throughout Europe and is also an important food source for birds and crustaceans. Recently, mass surfacing and mortalities of cockles have been observed and reported at sites in Ireland and elsewhere, particularly in the summer months. One such site is Flaxfort Strand, Courtmacsherry Bay, County Cork, Ireland, an important feeding area used by many seabirds during the summer months. For the past few years large numbers of surfaced cockles have been observed at the site in a moribund condition. Samples of cockles from this area were collected over the summer months and their health status assessed. Cockles that had surfaced (moribund) and those still buried in the sediment were quantified and screened: sex, gonadal maturity and size class of cockles were also determined. Disseminated neoplasia and trematodes were observed in screened cockles. The most significant finding during the study was that mortalities and surfacing of cockles was related to a greater incidence of disseminated neoplasia. No neoplasia was observed in the smallest and largest size classes. There was a significantly higher prevalence of neoplasia in moribund cockles than in buried cockles, whereas in both groups a similar concentration of trematode metacercariae was observed in the screened tissues. Also, most of the cockles that had surfaced were either in the process of spawning or were spent. Overall a much larger percentage of moribund cockles exhibited both trematode infections plus neoplasia compared with buried cockles. A combination of the presence of neoplasia and trematodes, along with stress related to spawning, may immunocompromise the cockless, causing the animals to surface and become moribund.


KEY WORDS: Cerastoderma edule · Disseminated neoplasia · Trematodes · Surfacing · Gametogenesis


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Cite this article as: Morgan E, O’Riordan RM, Kelly TC, Culloty SC (2012) Influence of disseminated neoplasia, trematode infections and gametogenesis on surfacing and mortality in the cockle Cerastoderma edule. Dis Aquat Org 98:73-84. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02428

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