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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 65:167-176 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/dao065167

Reference ranges for hemolymph chemistries from Elliptio complanata of North Carolina

Lori L. Gustafson1,2,3,8, Michael K. Stoskopf1,3,4, William Showers1,5, Greg Cope1,4, Chris Eads2, Richard Linnehan1,3,7, Thomas J. Kwak1,6, Beth Andersen5,Jay F. Levine1,2,*

1Environmental Medicine Consortium, 2Population Health and Pathobiology, and 3Department of Clinical Sciences; Collegeof Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Box 8401, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27606, USA
4Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology, Box 7633, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,
5Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Box 8208, College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, and
6US Geological Survey, North Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Box 7617,Department of Zoology; North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695, USA
7National Aeronautic and Space Administration, Mail code CB, Lyndon B Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas 77058, USA
8Present address: USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, 16 Deep Cove Rd, Eastport, Maine 04631, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Hemolymph chemistries may be useful nonlethal measures of bivalve health. The prognostic value of hemolymph, however, depends on a comparison of chemistry results to reference ranges from healthy individuals. Currently, knowledge of expected hemolymph values in healthy and unhealthy freshwater mussels is extremely limited. The purpose of this study was to develop a set of reference ranges for clinical evaluation of hemolymph from a freshwater mussel species common to southeastern USA. We collected hemolymph from 380 Elliptio complanata from 19 apparently healthy populations from northwest of Raleigh, North Carolina, during May through July 2001. We present reference ranges for hemolymph parameters ammonia, glucose, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, aspartate aminotransferase (AST), bicarbonate, protein and cell count, and for tissue glycogen. We compare the subpopulations of mussels from regions with an agricultural riparian buffer to those surrounded predominantly by forested lands. We further present correlations noted between hemolymph chemistries and physical or physiologic parameters. The only statistically significant differences between populations contiguous to agricultural and forested lands were in hemolymph calcium and glucose concentrations. Other statistically significant correlations identified were between gravidity and hemolymph protein concentration and tissue glycogen content, as well as between gravidity and parasite burden, and between shell length and hemolymph glucose, AST, calcium and bicarbonate concentrations. The results of this study will aid the interpretation of health measures from populations of E. complanata of similar geographic and seasonal origin.

KEY WORDS: Elliptio complanata · Hemolymph · Hematology · Reference ranges

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