Suspension-feeding bivalve molluscs are confronted with a wide range of materials in the benthic marine environment. These materials include various sized plankton and the organic material derived from it, macroalgae, detritus and a diversity of microbial parasites that have adapted life stages to survive in the water column. For bivalve parasites to infect hosts though, they must first survive and remain infectious in the water column to make initial contact with hosts, and once in contact, enter and overcome elaborate pathways for particle sorting and selection. Even past these defenses, bivalve parasites are challenged with efficient systems of mechanical and chemical digestion and highly evolved systems of innate immunity. Here we review how bivalve parasites evade these hurdles to complete their life cycles and establish within bivalve hosts. We broadly cover significant viral, bacterial, and protozoan parasites of marine bivalve molluscs, and illustrate the emergent properties of these host-parasite systems where parasite transmission occurs through suspension feeding.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Life cycle
- Suspension feeding