Comparison of in vitro-cultured and wild-type Perkinsus marinus. III. Fecal elimination and its role in transmission

David Bushek, Susan E. Ford, Marnita M. Chintala

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Perkinsus marinus, a pathogen of the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica, is transmitted directly among oysters. Previous studies found viable P. marinus parasites in the feces and pseudofeces of oysters within hours of injection with parasites, suggesting that the parasite may be voided from live oysters and subsequently dispersed in the water column. The experiments described here were designed to quantify P. marinus shed in the feces and pseudofeces of experimentally infected oysters. The results indicated that parasites were shed in 2 phases. A 'decreasing' phase occurred within 2 wk of challenge and before net parasite proliferation began in the host. An 'increasing' phase occurred after P. marinus had begun replicating. The quantity of P. marinus recovered in the feces and pseudofeces of exposed oysters was only about 5% of the dose administered. In vitro-cultured P. marinus were eliminated at a greater rate than wild-type P. marinus and the fraction discharged was not associated with culture phase. Oysters that were continuously dosed with P. marinus in their food gradually lost the ability to discard the parasite in pseudofeces. The quantity of P. marinus shed in feces of infected oysters was correlated with both the P. marinus body burden and subsequent survival time, suggesting that noninvasive fecal counts could predict infection intensity and survival. The results indicate that in an epizootic, shedding of P. marinus via feces is relatively small compared to the potential number released by cadavers of heavily infected oysters, but that fecal discharge may be important in transmission before infections become lethal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-225
Number of pages9
JournalDiseases of Aquatic Organisms
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 4 2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


  • Crassostrea virginica
  • Disease
  • Infection
  • Modes of transmission
  • Oyster
  • Parasite


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