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Prevalence of the pathogenic crustacean virus Callinectes sapidus reovirus 1 near flow-through blue crab aquaculture in Chesapeake Bay, USA
Flowers, EM; Johnson, AF; Aguilar, R; Schott, EJ
Understanding the ecology of diseases is important to understanding variability in abundance, and therefore management, of marine animals exploited commercially. The blue crab Callinectes sapidus fills a crucial benthic-pelagic niche in Atlantic estuarine ecosystems and supports large commercial fisheries in both North and South America. In the USA, pre-molt blue crabs are typically held in short-term shedding (ecdysis) facilities to produce soft-shell crabs of increased value. However, mortality rates in these facilities are high and commonly associated with the pathogenic C. sapidus reovirus 1 (CsRV1). To assess whether crab mortalities in these facilities might increase CsRV1 prevalence in wild crab populations, tissue sampled from crabs collected over 2 summers either near to or far from shedding facilities using flow-through water systems were tested by reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) for the presence of CsRV1 RNA. In support of our hypothesis, PCR data identified the probability of detecting CsRV1 in wild crabs sampled close to shedding facilities to be 78% higher than in crabs sampled from far sites. PCR detections were also 61-72% more probable in male crabs and 21% more likely in male and female crabs over the minimum landing size. As the prevalence at which CsRV1 was detected varied within seasons, among locations and between years, blue crab migration and/or population fluctuations appear to also be involved.
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