Pathogens and diseases of freshwater mussels in the United States: Studies on bacterial transmission and depuration

Edited by: R.C. CiprianoA.W. Bruckner, and I.S. Shchelkunov



Unionid mussels are recognized as important contributors to healthy aquatic ecosystems, as well as bioindicators of environmental perturbations. Because they are sedentary, filter feeding animals and require hosts (i.e., fishes) to transform embryonic glochidia, mussels are susceptible to direct adverse environmental parameters, and indirect parameters that restrict the timely presence of the host(s). Their numbers have declined in recent decades to a point that this fauna is regarded as one of the most imperiled in North America. The most significant threat to populations of native unionids in recent years has been the introduction and spread of zebra mussels Dreissena polymorpha. Many federal and state agencies, and private interests are now engaged in mussel conservation efforts, including collecting selected imperiled species from impacted rivers and lakes and propagating them at refuges for future population augmentations. One essential consideration with mussel propagation and their intensive culture at refugia is the prevention of pathogen introductions and control of diseases. Currently, there are few reports of etiological agents causing diseases among freshwater mussels; however, because of increased observations of mussel die-offs in conjunction with transfers of live animals between natural waters and refugia, disease problems can be anticipated to emerge. This review summarizes research to develop bacterial isolation techniques, study pathogen transmission between fish and mussels, identify causes of seasonal mussel die-offs, and develop non-destructive methods for pathogen detection. These efforts were done to develop disease preventative techniques for use by resource managers to avoid potential large-scale disease problems in restoration and population augmentation efforts among imperiled populations.

Study Area

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference publication
Title Pathogens and diseases of freshwater mussels in the United States: Studies on bacterial transmission and depuration
ISBN 978-0-9835611-0-1
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation
Publisher location Landover, MD
Contributing office(s) Leetown Science Center
Description 9 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title Bridging America and Russia with shared perspectives on aquatic animal health: Proceedings of the Third Bilateral Conference between Russia and the United States
First page 47
Last page 55
Conference Title Third Bilateral Conference Between Russia and the United States, Aquatic Animal Health 2009
Conference Location Shepherdstown, WV
Conference Date July 12-20, 2009
Country United States
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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