ZHU Zewen, XU Ting, HE Zhongyang, WU Xinzhong, WU Liuji, MENG Qingguo, HUANG Jiaqing. Rickettsia-like organism infection associated with mass mortalities of blood clam, Tegillarca granosa, in the Yueqing Bay in China[J]. Acta Oceanologica Sinica, 2012, (1): 106-115. doi: 10.1007/s13131-012-0182-3
Citation: ZHU Zewen, XU Ting, HE Zhongyang, WU Xinzhong, WU Liuji, MENG Qingguo, HUANG Jiaqing. Rickettsia-like organism infection associated with mass mortalities of blood clam, Tegillarca granosa, in the Yueqing Bay in China[J]. Acta Oceanologica Sinica, 2012, (1): 106-115. doi: 10.1007/s13131-012-0182-3

Rickettsia-like organism infection associated with mass mortalities of blood clam, Tegillarca granosa, in the Yueqing Bay in China

doi: 10.1007/s13131-012-0182-3
  • Received Date: 2010-10-30
  • Rev Recd Date: 2011-04-23
  • A series of mass mortalities of the cultured blood clam, Tegillarca granosa, occurred in the Yueqing Bay of China from 2005 to 2009. An obligate intracellular prokaryote, designated as rickettsia-like organism (RLO), was frequently found in the moribund or dead blood clam sample during ultrastructural examination. These organisms were usually round, ellipsoid or occasionally dumbbellshaped, ranged from approximately 0.28 to 0.71 μm in size and had a trilaminar cell wall. Two reproductive modes of organisms, transverse binary fission and budding, were observed. The organisms were able to form eosinophilic inclusions. Most inclusions were found within epithelial and connective tissues of the mantle, gills and digestive tube. The biological and morphological characteristics indicate that these organisms may belong to the family Rickettsiaceae. RLOs exhibited significant pathogenicity. Cytopathological examinations revealed extensive necrosis and destruction in the infected cell. The degree of tissue destruction was positively related to the number of RLO inclusions in the tissues, and the cytopathological effects were positively related to the number of intracellular RLO. RLOs and their inclusions were discovered throughout different disease areas and in different time periods. The infection intensity of the RLOs was positively correlated with the mortality rate of clams. Therefore, RLO infection might be associated with mass mortalities of cultured blood clams in the Yueqing Bay.
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