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Current trends in the study of molluscan diseases

Jones, J.B.ORCID: 0000-0002-0773-2007 (2011) Current trends in the study of molluscan diseases. In: 7th Symposium on Diseases in Asian Aquaculture, 20 - 26 June 2008, Taipei, Taiwan

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The study of molluscan diseases has a long history. The first publication on the redial stages of a trematode appeared in the 18th century; early papers on molluscan phagocytosis appeared in the last half of the 19th century and yet much work published before about 1975 does not appear in electronic abstract databases and is effectively “lost”. By contrast, a recent search of a leading abstract database for the terms “mollusc” and “disease” shows that the number of publications has exploded in the last eight years and the exponential trend looks set to continue. Much of the increase has been driven by the introduction of molecular technologies, the rediscovery that the immunology of invertebrates generally is a rich hunting ground for new biochemical defence systems and thus potential medical breakthroughs and the desire to publish multiple papers from the same project. As this publication trend continues, it will become increasingly difficult to be knowledgeable on all aspects of molluscan diseases and considerable specialisation is inevitable.

It is not only our knowledge about known mollusc diseases that has grown, since new diseases continue to be reported as: aquaculture becomes more intensive; the Asia/Pacific regional skills base develops; and international reporting becomes more accurate. Transfer of disease between jurisdictions is also becoming more rapid as products are sent live around the world both as broodstock and for human consumption. Thus, the work of the Network of Aquaculture Centres in the Asia and the Pacific and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in awareness raising and skills development will continue to make an impact. It is inevitable that, as the initial work on mollusc diseases developed around shellfish growing areas in Europe and America, the next generation of molluscan disease experts will be based in the Asia and the Pacific region.

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