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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 90:143-151 (2010)  -  DOI:

Comparison of diagnostic techniques to detect the clam pathogen Perkinsus olseni

Pablo Balseiro1, Jaime Montes2, Ramón Fernández Conchas3, Beatriz Novoa1, Antonio Figueras1,*

1Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas, CSIC, C/Eduardo Cabello 6, CP 36208, Vigo, Pontevedra, Spain
2Centro de Investigacións Mariñas (CIMA), Pedras de Corón, CP 36620, Vilanova de Arousa, Pontevedra, Spain
3Instituto Tecnolóxico do Medio Mariño (INTECMAR), Peirao de Vilaxoán, CP 36611, Vilagarcía de Arousa, Pontevedra, Spain
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Perkinsosis in clams in Galicia (NW Spain) is caused by the protozoan parasite Perkinsus olseni Lester & Davis, 1981. We used 5 clam species of commercial interest cultured in Galicia (Ruditapes decussatus, R. philippinarum, Venerupis pullastra, V. rhomboides, and Donax trunculus) to compare various P. olseni diagnostic techniques. Results of a nested PCR assay for the diagnosis of P. olseni were compared to those obtained using 2 classical methods of diagnosis proposed by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), viz. histology and incubation in Ray’s fluid thioglycollate medium (RFTM). Moreover, the same samples were analyzed by 2 separate research groups. The results obtained by PCR showed high sensitivity and good correlation between research groups. In addition, this method is faster than histopathology and incubation on RFTM and less expensive than histopathology. Moreover, nested PCR requires less specialized training for technicians than histology. Histopathology also showed high specificity and a good correlation between research groups. Results from incubation on RFTM suggest that this method could give divergent results between research groups, particularly in the case of low levels of infection, but it is nevertheless useful for disease-monitoring purposes. PCR is appropriate for rapidly screening large numbers of clams.

KEY WORDS: Perkinsus · Diagnosis · PCR · Histology · Ray’s fluid thioglycollate medium · Clams · Aquaculture

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Cite this article as: Balseiro P, Montes J, Conchas RF, Novoa B, Figueras A (2010) Comparison of diagnostic techniques to detect the clam pathogen Perkinsus olseni. Dis Aquat Org 90:143-151.

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