Determination of the effects of temperature on viability, metabolic activity and proliferation of two Perkinsus species, and its significance to understanding seasonal cycles of perkinsosis

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The range of water temperatures in which Perkinsus species can survive and proliferate remains ill-defined, particularly at lower temperatures. The in vitro viability, metabolic activity, and proliferation of 3 isolates each of P. marinus and P. olseni trophozoites at 28°C, and at 15 and 4°C, after transfer from 28°C, were compared. Both species showed declines in metabolic activity and proliferation from 28°C to 15°C. At 4°C, both species had viability after 30 days incubation time (P. marinus 49%, P. olseni 58%), but limited metabolic activity and no proliferation. Perkinsus marinus viability was further compared when transferred directly from 28°C, 18°C and progressively from 18°C (0.5°C/day) to 2, 4 and 6°C and maintained for up to 4 months. Viability was highest under progressive transfer (77% and 54% after 30 and 60 days exposure to test temperatures). The decrease in P. marinus viability at the lower temperatures in vitro only partially explains decreasing parasite infection intensities in eastern oysters in the colder months of the year. Moreover, the significant decrease in parasite infection intensities in late winter and early spring, as temperatures increase, is likely due to an active process of elimination by oyster host defences. © 2008 Cambridge University Press.

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