Aspects of the biology of the parasite Bonamia ostreae with a view to gaining a greater understanding of how to alleviate its impact on the European flat oyster, Ostrea edulis.
University College Cork
The parasite Bonamia ostreae has decimated Ostrea edulis stocks throughout Europe. The complete life cycle and means of transmission of the parasite remains unknown. The methods used to diagnose B. ostreae were examined to determine sensitivity and reproducibility. Two methods, with fixed protocols, should be used for the accurate detection of infection within a sample. A 13-month study of two stocks of O. edulis with varying periods of exposure to B. ostreae, was undertaken to determine if varying lengths of exposure would translate into observations of differing susceptibility. Oyster stocks can maintain themselves over extended periods of time in B. ostreae endemic areas. To identify a well performing spat stock, which could be used to repopulate beds within the region, hatchery bred spat from three stocks found in the North sea were placed on a B. ostreae infected bed and screened for growth, mortality and prevalence of infection. Local environmental factors may influence oyster performance, with local stocks better adapted to these conditions. Sediment and macroinvertebrate species were screened to investigate mechanisms by which B. ostreae may be maintaining itself on oyster beds. Mytilus edulis was positive, indicating that B. ostreae may use incidental carriers as a method of maintaining itself. The ability of oyster larvae to pick up infection from the surrounding environment was investigated by collecting larvae from brooding oysters from different areas. Larvae may acquire the pathogen from the water column during the process of filter feeding by the brooding adult, even when the parents themselves are uninfected. A study was undertaken to elucidate the activity of the parasite during the initial stage of infection, when it cannot be detected within the host. A naïve stock screened negative for infection throughout the trial, using heart imprints and PCR yet B. ostreae was detected by in-situ hybridisation.
Bonamia ostreae , Ostrea edulis
Flannery, G. 2014. Aspects of the biology of the parasite Bonamia ostreae with a view to gaining a greater understanding of how to alleviate its impact on the European flat oyster, Ostrea edulis. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.