Gignoux-Wolfsohn, Sarah A., Newcomb, Matilda S. R., Ruiz, Gregory M., and Lohan, Katrina M. Pagenkopp. 2021. "Environmental factors drive the release of Perkinsus marinus from infected oysters." Parasitology 148 (5):532-538. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0031182020002383
Since the discovery of Perkinsus marinus as the cause of dermo disease in Crassostrea virginica, salinity and temperature have been identified as the main environmental drivers of parasite prevalence. However, little is known about how these variables affect the movement of the parasite from host to water column. In order to elucidate how environmental factors can influence the abundance of this parasite in the water column, we conducted a series of experiments testing the effects of time of day, temperature and salinity on the release of P. marinus cells from infected oysters. We found that P. marinus cells were released on a diurnal cycle, with most cells released during the hottest and brightest period of the day (12:00-18:00). Temperature also had a strong and immediate effect on the number of cells released, but salinity did not, only influencing the intensity of infection over the course of several months. Taken together, our results demonstrate that (1) the number of parasites in the water column fluctuates according to a diurnal cycle, (2) temperature and salinity act on different timescales to influence parasite abundance, and (3) live infected oysters may substantially contribute to the abundance of transmissive parasites in the water column under particular environmental conditions.