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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 71:51-58 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/dao071051

Infection patterns in White Sea blue mussels Mytilus edulis of different age and size with metacercariae of Himasthla elongata (Echinostomatidae) and Cercaria parvicaudata (Renicolidae)

K. E. Nikolaev, A. A. Sukhotin, K. V. Galaktionov*

Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, White Sea Biological Station, Universitetskaja Naberezhnaja 1, 199034 St. Petersburg, Russia
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Infection of mussels Mytilus edulis L. by 2 trematode species was studied in a natural intertidal population in the Chupa inlet of the White Sea. The prevalence of metacercariae of Himasthla elongata (Mehlis, 1831) and Cercaria parvicaudata (Stunkard & Shaw, 1931) in mussels reached 100% in 3 to 4 yr old molluscs and remained at this level in older individuals. Infection intensity increased evenly with the age of the molluscan host, showing a tendency to decrease only in the oldest (9 yr old) mussels. These patterns of age dynamics of prevalence and infection intensity were associated with accumulation of trematode larvae in the course of the molluscs’ lives. Ability of metacercariae to exist in mussels for long periods (at least 2.5 yr) was verified in the course of an experiment, during which infected molluscs were kept in a subtidal net cage. Decrease of infection intensity in the oldest individuals may reflect selective mortality of the most severely infected molluscs. Among mussels of the same age, higher infection intensity values occurred in larger individuals. This may be due to an enhanced pumping rate in large molluscs, which increases the probability of cercariae, free-living trematode larvae, infecting them via water currents.

KEY WORDS: Mussels · Metacercariae · Digenea · Age · Size · Himasthla elongata · Cercaria parvicaudata · White Sea

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