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LABORATORY TRANSMISSION STUDIES OF QPX DISEASE IN THE NORTHERN QUAHOG (=HARD CLAM): DEVELOPMENT OF AN INFECTION PROCEDURE
 

Summary: LABORATORY TRANSMISSION STUDIES OF QPX DISEASE IN THE NORTHERN QUAHOG
(=HARD CLAM): DEVELOPMENT OF AN INFECTION PROCEDURE
SOREN F. DAHL AND BASSEM ALLAM*
Marine Sciences Research Center, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794-5000
ABSTRACT Quahog Parasite Unknown (QPX) disease has significantly impacted cultured and wild hard clam, Mercenaria
mercenaria, populations in the Northeastern United States and is the first formidable disease issue concerning near market sized
clams for the industry. Most of what is known about this protistan infection comes from diagnostic reports of mortality events
and some preliminary field investigations. Disease dynamics and details of parasite pathobiology are somewhat of an obscurity.
This study fostered a laboratory approach towards the experimental induction of infection to confirm direct transmissibility of the
disease and to verify trends, observed in the field, of varied host susceptibility based on hard clam stock origin. Evidence of QPX
as a directly infective pathogen was achieved, through the utilization of laboratory maintained QPX isolate cultures, as injection
of QPX cells into hard clam tissue resulted in infection and subsequent mortalities in matter of a few months. Laboratory
conditions did not promote transmission in a trial that aimed to mimic ‘natural’ methods of infection by the cohabitation
of infected adult hard clams, obtained from the field, with nai®ve seed clams. Histopathology of the adult hard clams, at the end
of the cohabitation trial, displayed a significant amount of dead and degrading QPX cells, which suggests that laboratory
conditions may have promoted healing and resistance of the host. This study has established an experimental infection method
that can be used for future investigations concerning crucial aspects of the QPX/hard clam disease system. Laboratory conditions
that led to the healing of field infected animals require more investigations and may promote a better understanding of factors
affecting disease development.
KEY WORDS: Quahog Parasite Unknown, Mercenaria, inoculation, cohabitation, healing, in vitro

  

Source: Allam, Bassem - School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, SUNY at Stony Brook

 

Collections: Biology and Medicine; Environmental Sciences and Ecology