Biotic and abiotic factors influencing haplosporidian species distribution in the cockle Cerastoderma edule in Ireland

Thumbnail Image
Albuixech-Martí, Sara
Lynch, Sharon A.
Culloty, Sarah C.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Elsevier Inc.
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
The Phylum Haplosporidia consists of four genera (Minchinia, Haplosporidium, Urosporidium and Bonamia) that are endoparasitic protists of a wide range of marine invertebrates including commercial bivalve species. Characterization of haplosporidian species remains a challenge due to their patchy spatial and temporal distributions, host-restricted occurrence, and poorly known life cycles. However, they are commonly associated with significant mortality events in bivalves. Due to the recent sporadic mortality events that have occurred in cockles in Europe, the objectives of this study were to determine the diversity, distribution and seasonality of haplosporidian species in Cerastoderma edule populations at several Irish sites. The role of abiotic (temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen in water) and biotic (cockle size and age) factors as drivers or inhibitors of haplosporidian infection were also assessed. Cockles (n = 998) from the intertidal were sampled from April/July 2018 to April 2019 at three sites with no commercial fishing activity on the south coast (Celtic Sea) and one site on the northeast coast (Irish Sea) with an active commercial fishery. Screening of the cockles by molecular techniques (PCR, Sanger sequencing) and by histopathology was carried out. Two species were identified and confirmed in Irish C. edule for the first time, Minchinia mercenariae -like (14.8%) and Minchinia tapetis (29.6%). Similar to other haplosporidian parasites, the Minchinia spp. detected in our study were present year-round at all sites, except for M. tapetis in Youghal Bay (Celtic Sea). Coinfection of both Minchinia species was only observed in Cork Harbour (Celtic Sea) and Dundalk Bay (Irish Sea), where Minchinia spp. showed a higher presence compared to Youghal Bay and Dungarvan Harbour (Celtic Sea). Moreover, haplosporidians detected with generic primers, were present at all of the sample sites throughout the year but had a higher occurrence during the winter months and were positively correlated with dissolved oxygen. Likewise, smaller and older C.edule seemed to be more vulnerable to the haplosporidian infection. Furthermore, haplosporidian distribution displayed spatial variability between and within sample sites, with the highest presence being observed in cockles at one of the commercially fished Dundalk beds, while the lowest presence was observed in cockles at the second Dundalk bed that was more influenced by freshwater runoff when the tide was out. Findings from this study provide additional information on the distribution and seasonal presence of novel haplosporidian species and their potential abiotic and biotic drivers/inhibitors of infection.
Cockle health , Coinfection , Ecological drivers , Haplosporidia , Minchinia
Albuixech-Martí, S., Lynch, S. A. and Culloty, S. C. (2020) 'Biotic and abiotic factors influencing haplosporidian species distribution in the cockle Cerastoderma edule in Ireland', Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 174, 107425 (12pp). doi: 10.1016/j.jip.2020.107425
Link to publisher’s version