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Alien parasitic copepods in mussels and oysters of the Wadden Sea
Elsner, N.O.; Jacobsen, S.; Thieltges, D.W.; Reise, K. (2011). Alien parasitic copepods in mussels and oysters of the Wadden Sea. Helgol. Mar. Res. 65(3): 299-307.
In: Helgoland Marine Research. Springer: Berlin; Heidelberg. ISSN 1438-387X; e-ISSN 1438-3888, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Introduced species; Mussels; Mytilicola; Oysters; Parasites; Wadden Sea

Auteurs  Top 
  • Elsner, N.O.
  • Jacobsen, S., meer
  • Thieltges, D.W., meer
  • Reise, K., meer

    Molluscan intestinal parasites of the genus Mytilicola, specifically M. intestinalis, were initially introduced into bivalves in the North Sea in the 1930s. It was presumably introduced from the Mediterranean with ship-fouling mussels, then attained epidemic proportions in Mytilus edulis in the 1950s and is now widely established in the North Sea region. Mytilicola orientalis was co-introduced with Pacific oysters to France in the 1970s and in the southern North Sea in the early 1990s. Its main host Crassostrea gigas has massively invaded the Wadden Sea with a concomitant decline in mussels. To explore whether introduced mytilicolid parasites could play a role in the shifting dominance from native mussels to invasive oysters, we analysed 390 mussels and 174 oysters collected around the island of Sylt in the northern Wadden Sea. We show that M. intestinalis has a prevalence > 90% and a mean intensity of 4 adult copepods in individual mussels with > 50 mm shell length at all sheltered sites. By contrast, none were found in the oysters. However, at one site, we found M. orientalis in C. gigas with a prevalence of 10% and an intensity of 2 per host individual (August 2008). This constitutes the most northern record in Europe for this Pacific parasite until now. Alignments of partial sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I (COI) gene and the nuclear internal transcribed spacers (ITS) and 18S rDNA sequences each show a distinct difference between the two species, which confirms our morphological identification. We suggest that the high parasite load in mussels compared to oysters may benefit the continued expansion of C. gigas in the Wadden Sea.

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