Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Genetic Test Can Detect Clam Disease

Date:
October 21, 2005
Source:
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Summary:
A sensitive new genetic test can now detect a crippling disease called QPX occurring in clam beds from Cape Cod south to Virginia and north to Canada. Although it does not affect humans and it is not as well known as red tide, the disease can have a significant impact on a local economy by killing clams and devastating shellfish harvests and commercial aquaculture operations.

Becky Gast (left) shows Roxanna Smolowitz a local clam. QPX does not infect humans but can kill clams.
Credit: Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

QPX - for quahogparasite unknown - is a single-celled organism related to slime mold.It was first detected in 1995 in Provincetown, MA and spread to nearbyclam beds, killing nine of ten clams in many of the beds. The diseasespreads from clam to clam, infecting the clam by secreting a thickmucus layer to insulate itself from the clam’s immune system.

RebeccaGast, an associate scientist in the Biology Department at Woods HoleOceanographic Institution (WHOI), has developed a genetic test todetect the organism not only in clams but in seawater and sediment.Since QPX also decomposes seaweed, researchers now believe it can befound in all coastal waters but doesn’t become deadly to clams until itreaches a critical concentration in the water.

Gast notes thatalthough red tide got a lot of media attention this year, QPX isactually a bigger problem. The toxins that cause red tide in clams andother shellfish in New England do not kill the shellfish and will washaway once the red tide bloom diminishes, eventually making theshellfish safe to eat. QPX kills the clams, and there is no known cure.

Gastis working with Roxanna Smolowitz, a veterinarian at the nearby MarineBiological Laboratory, to find out what triggers the organisms to reachconcentrations that become deadly, and whether that threshold variesamong clam strains. Smolowitz uses traditional microscopic examinationof tissues to determine if clams are sick.

Gast’s genetic testcan now also be used to ensure clams without visible symptoms are notcarrying the disease. With the disease spreading along the East Coastand no cure, the researchers say the best solution for shellfishermenand aquaculture operations is to keep infection levels as low aspossible and try to keep seed clams free of the disease. One possibleremedy may be rotating shellfish crops, much like farmers do on land.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. "New Genetic Test Can Detect Clam Disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 October 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051018222946.htm>.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. (2005, October 21). New Genetic Test Can Detect Clam Disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051018222946.htm
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. "New Genetic Test Can Detect Clam Disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051018222946.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Newsy (July 23, 2014) A U.C. San Diego researcher says jealousy isn't just a human trait, and dogs aren't the best at sharing the attention of humans with other dogs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Newsy (July 23, 2014) ​It's called I Know Where Your Cat Lives, and you can keep hitting the "Random Cat" button to find more real cats all over the world. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins