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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 105:127-138 (2013)  -  DOI:

Spatial distribution of mortality in Pacific oysters Crassostrea gigas: reflection on mechanisms of OsHV-1 transmission

Ika Paul-Pont*, Navneet K. Dhand, Richard J. Whittington

Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney, 425 Werombi Road, Camden, New South Wales 2570, Australia

ABSTRACT: The ostreid herpesvirus OsHV-1 has the potential to devastate Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas culture in Australia as it has done in many other countries, highlighting the need for a better understanding of disease expression and transmission. The aim of this study was to assess the spatial distribution of OsHV-1-associated mortalities in one of only two infected areas in Australia, Woolooware Bay (Botany Bay, New South Wales). In October 2011, healthy sentinel Pacific oysters were placed in 3 different locations at 3 different tidal levels, and OsHV-1 associated mortalities were closely monitored over 7 mo. The outbreak started in November 2011, and the disease remained active until April 2012. Three major mortality events were detected. Rather than being a propagating epizootic, it appeared that most oysters were infected from a common environmental source. The distribution of OsHV-1-associated mortalities was spatially clustered, highly variable and clearly dependent on the age of oysters and their position in the water column. Non-random distribution of mortalities at macro scale (sites several km apart) and micro scale (within rearing trays), and vertical clustering patterns in the water column are discussed in regard to factors known to influence mechanism of disease transmission in aquatic environments (hydrodynamics, physical disturbances, host density/distribution, and variations of environmental parameters). A new hypothesis proposing that OsHV-1 may be carried through water by particles, possibly plankton, is also suggested to explain the patchy distribution of mortalities in Woolooware Bay.

KEY WORDS: Crassostrea gigas · Ostreid herpesvirus 1 · Summer mortalities · Spatial distribution · Plankton · Disease transmission

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Cite this article as: Paul-Pont I, Dhand NK, Whittington RJ (2013) Spatial distribution of mortality in Pacific oysters Crassostrea gigas: reflection on mechanisms of OsHV-1 transmission. Dis Aquat Org 105:127-138.

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