DAO 46:223-229 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/dao046223

Development and application of an immunoassay diagnostic technique for studying Hematodinium infections in Nephrops norvegicus populations

G. D. Stentiford*, D. M. Neil, G. H. Coombs

Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, Scotland, United Kingdom
*Present address: Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), Weymouth Laboratory, Barrack Road, The Nothe, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8UB, United Kingdom. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Patent Hematodinium infections of the Norway lobster Nephrops norvegicus can be detected with a morphological method (pleopod diagnosis), but this fails to identify low-level haemolymph (sub-patent) and any tissue-based (latent) infections. The current study describes the development and application of an immunoassay for the detection of antigens of the parasite Hematodinium in the Norway lobster N. norvegicus. Infected tissue and haemolymph samples were detected as multiple-band reactions to a polyclonal antibody (anti-Hematodinium). The sensitivity limit of the method was 204 parasites mm-3, approximately 10 times more sensitive than the pleopod diagnosis method. Use of the immunoassay on tissue samples taken from catches in the Clyde Sea area, Scotland, UK, showed that the pleopod method considerably under-diagnosed infection prevalence in the early part of the season, though this under-diagnosis decreased as infected lobsters in the field progressed from latent and sub-patent to patent infections. However, the immunoassay failed to detect any infected lobsters during the summer months, suggesting that infection may not be carried over from one season to the next. The data presented suggest that this immunoassay allows for the accurate estimation of Hematodinium infection prevalence in the field and should be employed, where possible, for the routine monitoring of infection prevalence in N. norvegicus.

KEY WORDS: Hematodinium · Infection prevalence · Nephrops norvegicus · Seasonality · Western blot

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