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Identification and characterisation of two haplosporidian parasites of oysters in north Western Australia

Bearham, Douglas (2008) Identification and characterisation of two haplosporidian parasites of oysters in north Western Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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A cryptic haplosporidian parasite was detected infecting rock oysters from the Montebello Islands in north-western Australia using a PCR targeting the parasite's small ribosomal subunit gene. The PCR products were cloned and sequenced along with the remaining sections of the parasite's SSU rRNA gene. Phylogenetic analysis of the sequence generated indicated a Minchinia species (Haplosporidia). The SSU sequence generated was used to develop two in situ hybridisation assays to visualise the parasite in H/E sections as well as a PCR assay to detect the parasite. The molecular assays were assessed for specificity and sensitivity and were then used to compare the parasite to previous haplosporidian parasite infections of pearl oysters. Both assays produced positive results from the infected pearl oysters but not from other closely related haplosporidian species. An SEM and TEM electron microscopy analysis was performed on spores from both parasite species. The spores of the pearl oyster parasite had two spore wall filaments wound around the spore originating for a posterior thickening while the spores of the rock oyster parasite were covered in microtubule-like structures. These data suggests pearl oysters where co-infected with both the Haplosporidium sp. and the Minchinia sp. detected in rock oysters. No evidence of a posterior thickening could be found on the spores of the rock oyster parasite. Attempts to detect the parasite at the previous geographic sites of its detection in pearl oysters resulted in detection of the Minchinia species in tropical oysters in the Kimberley region of Western Australia by in-situ hybridisation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Supervisor(s): Nicholls, Philip
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