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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 50:67-78 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/dao050067

Two epizootic diseases in Chesapeake Bay commercial clams, Mya arenaria and Tagelus plebeius

Christopher F. Dungan1*, Rosalee M. Hamilton1, Karen L. Hudson2, Carol B. McCollough1, Kimberly S. Reece2

1Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Cooperative Oxford Laboratory, 904 S. Morris Street, Oxford, Maryland 21654, USA
2Virginia Institute of Marine Science, PO Box 1346, Gloucester Point, Virginia 23062, USA

ABSTRACT: Declining Chesapeake Bay harvests of softshell clams, together with historical and emerging reports of epizootic diseases in Mya arenaria, prompted a survey in summer 2000 of the health status of selected commercial clam populations. All sampled populations (8 M. arenaria softshell clam, 2 Tagelus plebeius razor clam) were infected by Perkinsus sp. protozoans at prevalences ranging from 30 to 100% of sampled clams. Nucleotide sequences for the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of the rRNA gene complex were determined for clonal in vitro Perkinsus sp. isolates propagated from both M. arenaria and T. plebeius. Multiple polymorphic sequences were amplified from each isolate, but phylogenetic analysis placed all sequences into 2 clades of a monophyletic group, which included both recently described clam parasites P. chesapeaki and P. andrewsi. Sequences amplified from each clonal isolate were found in both sister clades, one containing P. andrewsi and the other P. chesapeaki. Most (7 of 8) M. arenaria samples were also affected with disseminated neoplasia (DN), at prevalences of 3 to 37%, but neither T. plebeius sample showed DN disease. Disease mortalities projected for sampled clam populations, especially those affected by both diseases, may further deplete subtidal commercial clam populations in mesohaline portions of Chesapeake Bay.

KEY WORDS: Mollusc neoplasia · Disseminated neoplasia · Hemic neoplasia · Dermo disease · Perkinsus chesapeaki · Perkinsus andrewsi · Softshell clam · Razor clam

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