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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 130:51-63 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03263

Environment, dosage, and pathogen isolate moderate virulence in eelgrass wasting disease

P. D. Dawkins1, M. E. Eisenlord1,*, R. M. Yoshioka2, E. Fiorenza3, S. Fruchter1, F. Giammona1, M. Winningham1, C. D. Harvell1

1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
2Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, University of Oregon, Charleston, OR 97420, USA
3School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Eelgrass wasting disease, caused by the marine pathogen Labyrinthula zosterae, has the potential to devastate important eelgrass habitats worldwide. Although this host-pathogen interaction may increase under certain environmental conditions, little is known about how disease severity is impacted by multiple components of a changing environment. In this study, we investigated the effects of variation in 3 different L. zosterae isolates, pathogen dosage, temperature, and light on severity of infections. Severity of lesions on eelgrass varied among the 3 different isolates inoculated in laboratory trials. Our methods to control dosage of inoculum showed that disease severity increased with pathogen dosage from 104 to 106 cells ml-1. In a dosage-controlled light and temperature 2-way factorial experiment consisting of 2 light regimes (diel light cycle and complete darkness) and 2 temperatures (11 and 18°C), L. zosterae cell growth rate in vitro was higher at the warmer temperature. In a companion experiment that tested the effects of light and temperature in in vivo inoculations, disease severity was higher in dark treatments and temperature was marginally significant. We suggest that the much greater impact of light in the in vivo inoculation experiment indicates an important role for plant physiology and the need for photosynthesis in slowing severity of infections. Our work with controlled inoculation of distinct L. zosterae isolates shows that pathogen isolate, increasing dosage of inoculum, increasing temperature, and diminishing light increase disease severity, suggesting L. zosterae will cause increased damage to eelgrass beds with changing environmental conditions.


KEY WORDS: Virulence · Environmental stress · Labyrinthula zosterae · Eelgrass wasting disease · EGWD · Zostera marina · Seagrass


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Cite this article as: Dawkins PD, Eisenlord ME, Yoshioka RM, Fiorenza E and others (2018) Environment, dosage, and pathogen isolate moderate virulence in eelgrass wasting disease. Dis Aquat Org 130:51-63. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03263

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