Co-occurrence of pathogen assemblages in a keystone species the common cockle Cerastoderma edule on the Irish coast

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Albuixech-Martí, Sara
Culloty, Sarah C.
Lynch, Sharon A.
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Cambridge University Press
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Despite coinfections being recognized as the rule in animal populations, most studies focus on single pathogen systems. Pathogen interaction networks and the drivers of such associations are lacking in disease ecology studies. Common cockle Cerastoderma edule populations are exposed to a great diversity of pathogens, thus making them a good model system to investigate. This study examined the diversity and prevalence of pathogens from different taxonomic levels in wild and fished C. edule on the Irish coast. Potential interactions were tested focussing on abiotic (seawater temperature and salinity) and biotic (cockle size and age, and epiflora on shells) factors. No Microsporidia nor OsHV-1μVar were detected. Single infections with Haplosporidia (37.7%) or Vibrio (25.3%) were more common than two-pathogen coinfected individuals (9.5%), which may more easily succumb to infection. Fished C. edule populations with high cockle densities were more exposed to infections. Higher temperature and presence of epiflora on cockle shells promoted coinfection in warmer months. Low seawater salinity, host condition and proximity to other infected host species influenced coinfection distribution. A positive association between two Minchinia spp. was observed, most likely due to their different pathogenic effect. Findings highlight the major influence that ecological factors have on pathogen interactions and host–pathogen interplay.
Cockle health , Coinfection , Confounding factors , Haplosporidia , Pathogen interactions , Vibrio
Albuixech-Martí, S., Culloty, S. C. and Lynch, S. A. (2021) 'Co-occurrence of pathogen assemblages in a keystone species the common cockle Cerastoderma edule on the Irish coast', Parasitology. doi:10.1017/S0031182021001396