DAO 98:85-94 (2012)  -  doi:10.3354/dao02432

Invasive crayfish and crayfish plague on the move: first detection of the plague agent Aphanomyces astaci in the Romanian Danube

Lucian Pârvulescu1,*, Anne Schrimpf2, Eva Kozubíková3, Sara Cabanillas Resino3, Trude Vrålstad4,5, Adam Petrusek3,**, Ralf Schulz2,**

1West University of Timisoara, Faculty of Chemistry, Biology, Geography, Dept. of Biology and Chemistry, 300115 Timisoara, Romania
2University Koblenz-Landau, Institute for Environmental Sciences, 76829 Landau, Germany
3Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, 12844 Prague 2, Czech Republic
4Norwegian Veterinary Institute, Section of Mycology, 0033 Oslo, Norway
5University of Oslo, Department of Biology, 0316 Oslo, Norway
*Email: **These authors contributed equally to this work

ABSTRACT: Native European crayfish, such as Astacus leptodactylus, are threatened, among other factors, by the crayfish plague agent Aphanomyces astaci, dispersed by invasive North American crayfish. Two of these invaders, Pacifastacus leniusculus and Orconectes limosus, have extended their distribution in the River Danube catchment; the latter was detected for the first time in Romania in 2008. We monitored, at monthly intervals for over 2 yr, occurrence of native A. leptodactylus and invasive O. limosus at 6 sites on the Romanian Danube and checked for the invasive species in 4 of its tributaries. Between January 2009 and March 2011, the relative abundances of O. limosus steadily increased with time, while the native A. leptodactylus dramatically decreased in abundance. O. limosus expanded downstream at a rate of ca. 15 km yr−1; in August 2011, it was already present in the upper 105 km of the Romanian Danube. An agent-specific real-time PCR analyses demonstrated the presence of A. astaci DNA in at least 32% of the analysed invasive (n = 71) and 41% of the native (n = 49) crayfish coexisting in the Danube. Furthermore, A. astaci was also detected in A. leptodactylus captured about 70 km downstream of the O. limosus invasion front (at the time of sampling). Assuming a steady rate of expansion, O. limosus may invade the sensitive Danube delta area in the mid-2060s, even without long-distance dispersal. The crayfish plague agent, however, may reach the delta substantially earlier, through dispersal downstream among populations of native crayfish.

KEY WORDS: Crayfish plague · Aphanomyces astaci · Quantitative real-time PCR · Molecular diagnostics · Danube · Non-indigenous crayfish · Orconectes limosus · Indigenous crayfish · Astacus leptodactylus

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Cite this article as: Pârvulescu L, Schrimpf A, Kozubíková E, Cabanillas Resino S, Vrålstad T, Petrusek A, Schulz R (2012) Invasive crayfish and crayfish plague on the move: first detection of the plague agent Aphanomyces astaci in the Romanian Danube. Dis Aquat Org 98:85-94

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