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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 120:83-88 (2016)  -  DOI:

Molecular detection of the parasitic dinoflagellate Hematodinium perezi from blue crabs Callinectes sapidus in Louisiana, USA

Timothy J. Sullivan1,*, Carey G. Gelpi2, Joseph E. Neigel1

1Department of Biology, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, Louisiana 70503, USA
2Department of Environmental Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The dinoflagellate Hematodinium perezi is a prolific pathogen of the blue crab Callinectes sapidus along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of North America. High prevalence, sometimes approaching 100%, and outbreaks with high mortality are associated with higher salinities. H. perezi has not been reported previously in blue crabs from Louisiana, USA, where salinities in coastal habitats are generally below the parasite’s favorable range. However, the possibility that H. perezi infects blue crabs in higher salinity habitats offshore has not been investigated. A PCR-based test for H. perezi was used to screen blue crabs collected from both high and low salinity areas. These included juvenile and adult crabs from inshore marshes where salinities are relatively low and from higher salinity offshore shoals that are spawning sites for females. H. perezi was detected in blue crabs from offshore shoals (prevalence = 5.6%) but not in juvenile or adult crabs from inshore habitats. Megalopae (post-larvae) were also collected from inshore locations. Although megalopae settle inshore where salinities are relatively low, the megalopal stage is preceded by a planktonic phase in higher salinity offshore waters. We detected H. perezi in 11.2% of settling megalopae tested. Although the prevalence of H. perezi was relatively low within our samples, if spawning females and megalopae are especially vulnerable, the impact on the population could be compounded. This is the first report of H. perezi from blue crabs in Louisiana and demonstrates the importance of examining all life stages in determining the prevalence of a harmful parasite.

KEY WORDS: Blue crab · Callinectes · Louisiana · Hematodinium · Dinoflagellate · Pathogen · Gulf of Mexico

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Cite this article as: Sullivan TJ, Gelpi CG, Neigel JE (2016) Molecular detection of the parasitic dinoflagellate Hematodinium perezi from blue crabs Callinectes sapidus in Louisiana, USA. Dis Aquat Org 120:83-88.

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