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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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    The infection cycle of Marteilia pararefringens in blue mussels Mytilus edulis in a heliothermic marine oyster lagoon in Norway

    Mats Bøgwald*, Cecilie K. Skår, Egil Karlsbakk, Anders Alfjorden, Stephen W. Feist, David Bass, Stein Mortensen

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Agapollen is a traditional heliothermic marine oyster lagoon in western Norway, representing the northernmost site of any Marteilia sp. detected in Europe. The semi-closed lagoon is a unique site to study the life cycle and development of Marteilia pararefringens in naïve mussels. Two baskets with uninfected mussels were deployed in the lagoon outlet in May and October 2018, respectively, and sampled every 6 wk. The parasite was first detected in the mussels by PCR in early July and by histology in late August. By then, M. pararefringens had developed into mature stages, indicating a rapid development during mid-summer. Sporulation occurred during autumn. Mussels deployed in October never became infected, indicating that transmission was restricted to the warmest period of the year. Pronounced pathology was observed in infected mussels, including degenerated digestive tubules and infiltration of haemocytes. Mussel mortality was observed in the baskets, but whether this was due to infections of M. pararefringens or other environmental factors could not be determined. Plankton samples from the lagoon were also collected for PCR analysis. These samples, dominated by copepods, were positive for M. pararefringens in summer. In sorted samples, M. pararefringens was detected in the Acartia spp. and Paracartia grani fractions between July and October. These plankton-copepods are therefore potentially involved in the life cycle of M. pararefringens.