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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 34:51-61 (1998)  -  doi:10.3354/dao034051

Perkinsus marinus tissue distribution and seasonal variation in oysters Crassostrea virginica from Florida, Virginia and New York

L. M. Oliver1,*, W. S. Fisher1, S. E. Ford2, L. M. Ragone Calvo3, E. M. Burreson3, E. B. Sutton4, J. Gandy2

1U.S. EPA National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Gulf Ecology Division, 1 Sabine Island Drive, Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561-5299, USA
2Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory, Institute of Coastal and Marine Sciences, 6959 Miller Avenue, Port Norris, New Jersey 08349-9736, USA
3Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, Virginia 23062, USA
4PO Box 101669, Gainesville, Florida 32610, USA

ABSTRACT: Perkinsus marinus infection intensity was measured in eastern oysters Crassostrea virginica collected in October and December 1993, and March, May, and July 1994 from 3 U.S. sites: Apalachicola Bay (FL), Chesapeake Bay (VA), and Oyster Bay (NY). Gill, mantle, digestive gland, adductor muscle, hemolymph, and remaining tissue (including gonadal material and rectum) were dissected from 20 oysters from each site at each collection time. Samples were separately diagnosed for P. marinus infections by incubation in Ray's Fluid Thioglycollate Medium (RFTM) and subsequent microscopic quantification of purified enlarged hypnospores. At all sampling times and sites, average P. marinus infection intensity (g wet wt tissue-1 or ml hemolymph-1) was lowest in hemolymph samples, and generally highest in the digestive gland. Perkinsus marinus prevalence was 100% at both FL and NY sites for each of the 5 collection times, and, for the VA site, was less than 100% in only 1 month (May 1994). Seasonal intensity patterns and mean total body burdens differed among the sites. Average body burden was highest in VA during October and progressively declined to a minimum in May. This decline was probably due to mortality of heavily infected oysters and diminution of parasite activity associated with colder temperatures and reduced salinities. Intensities varied little during the months of October and December at both the FL and NY sites. Minimum average intensities were observed in March in FL oysters and May in NY oysters. Relatively high P. marinus infection levels that persisted throughout the winter in NY oysters compared with VA oysters could reflect constant high salinity in Long Island Sound which favors parasite activity, and also rapid decline in temperature in the fall that may have prevented epizootic oyster mortalities.

KEY WORDS: Perkinsus marinus · Crassostrea virginica · Tissue distribution · Body burdens · Seasonal variation · Geographic variation

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