MEPS 409:131-142 (2010)  -  doi:10.3354/meps08594

Epidemiology of Bonamia ostreae infecting European flat oysters Ostrea edulis from Lake Grevelingen, The Netherlands

Marc Y. Engelsma1,*, Sonja Kerkhoff1,4, Ineke Roozenburg1, Olga L. M. Haenen1, Ad van Gool2, Wil Sistermans3, Sander Wijnhoven3, Herman Hummel3

1Central Veterinary Institute of Wageningen UR, PO Box 65, 8200 AB, Lelystad, The Netherlands
2Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies (IMARES), PO Box 77, 4400 AB, Yerseke, The Netherlands
3Monitor Taskforce, Centre for Estuarine and Marine Ecology (NIOO-CEME), PO Box 140, 4400 AC, Yerseke, The Netherlands
4Present address: Pepscan Therapeutics BV, Zuidersluisweg 2, 8243 RC Lelystad, The Netherlands

ABSTRACT: Production of European flat oysters Ostrea edulis in the Netherlands has been hampered by the presence of the haplosporidian parasite Bonamia ostreae, which is now an enzootic species following its establishment after 1980. We analyzed histopathological data from annual shellfish disease monitoring from 1988 to 2006 to quantify prevalence of B. ostreae in flat oyster stocks of the marine Lake Grevelingen. In addition, we estimated prevalence of B. ostreae on a monthly basis with field surveys in 2003. The parasite was detected with PCR, using specific primers for B. ostreae. Prevalence of B. ostreae was analyzed relative to O. edulis density, biomass and a range of environmental parameters. B. ostreae was detected in flat oysters throughout the year with a higher prevalence in spring than in autumn, possibly due to termination of spawning and the onset of oyster growth in autumn. Although B. ostreae was detected in all oyster weight classes, prevalence was highest in the largest oysters in spring and declined disproportionately in autumn, possibly due to high mortality of large oysters before autumn, suggesting that prevalence depends on oyster age. Parasite prevalence was independent of oyster density and total biomass, but appeared to be higher after a warm autumn. Abundance of the flat oyster (infected or non-infected with B. ostreae) was negatively related to the temperature of the preceding period, suggesting that mortality in flat oysters increased at higher water temperatures. Furthermore, O. edulis appeared to be more susceptible to B. ostreae after years with lower food availability and lower salinities (<29.5). B. ostreae may weaken the competitive ability of O. edulis relative to the introduced Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas, particularly in years with high water temperatures.

KEY WORDS: Bonamia ostreae · Ostrea edulis · Oyster · Disease · Population dynamics · Environmental factors

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Cite this article as: Engelsma MY, Kerkhoff S, Roozenburg I, Haenen OLM and others (2010) Epidemiology of Bonamia ostreae infecting European flat oysters Ostrea edulis from Lake Grevelingen, The Netherlands. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 409:131-142

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