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Spatiotemporal dynamics of Spirochaeta, the putative etiologic agent of Akoya oyster disease in pearl oysters, as determined by quantitative PCR

Matsuyama, Tomomasa, Takano, Tomokazu, Nakayasu, Chihaya, Odawara, Kazushi, Tsuchihashi, Yasushi, Tanaka, Shinji, Yasuike, Motoshige, Fujiwara, Atushi, Nakamura, Yoji, Masaoka, Tetsuji
Aquaculture 2019
Pinctada fucata, Spirochaeta, animal diseases, bacteria, epidemiological studies, genes, heart, hemocytes, mortality, muscles, oysters, pathogens, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, rearing, seasonal variation, tissues, water temperature, Japan
Since the 1990s, Akoya oyster disease (AOD) associated with reddish browning of the soft tissues and mortality of cultured pearl oyster, Pinctada fucata (Gould), has been occurring in the western part of Japan. Although transmission experiments suggested that the disease is infectious, the causative agent has not been identified. Previous studies suggested that a member of the Spirochaeta cause AOD, and Candidatus Maribrachyspira akoyae was proposed as the putative causative agent. However, difficulties in culturing the putative causal bacterium have hindered research on AOD. In this study, we developed a quantitative PCR assay to examine the spatial-temporal colonization patterns of Spirochaeta in pearl oysters. Spirochete genes were abundant in the mantle, adductor muscle, and hemolymph of oysters but scarce in the gill, crystalline style, hemocytes, heart, and digestive glands. Spirochete genes were detected in the hemolymph 2 weeks after infection, and their number increased with time and mortality. The Spirochaeta genes identified in the hemolymph of pearl oysters reared in culturing fields changed with variations in water temperature, and the number of Spirochaeta genes increased or decreased at approximately 20 °C. Hence, the bacterium was thought to grow at water temperatures above 20 °C. These results are consistent with those of infection tests and epidemiologic studies of the distribution and seasonal changes in AOD pathogens and support the hypothesis that a spirochete causes AOD.