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Wendling, Carolin Charlotte; Wegner, K Mathias (2014): Experiment: summer mortality phenomena in pacific oysters. PANGAEA,, Supplement to: Wendling, CC; Wegner, KM (2013): Relative contribution of reproductive investment, thermal stress and Vibrio infection to summer mortality phenomena in Pacific oysters. Aquaculture, 412-413, 88-96,

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Mass mortalities of Pacific oysters Crassostrea gigas occur regularly when temperatures are high. Elevated temperatures facilitate the proliferation and spread of pathogens and simultaneously impose physiological stress on the host. Additionally, periods of high temperatures coincide with the oyster spawning season. Spawning is energetically costly and can further compromise oyster immunity. Most studies monitoring the underlying factors of oyster summer mortality in the field, point to the involvement of abiotic and biotic factors including low salinities, high temperatures, pollutants, toxic algae blooms, pathogen exposure and physical stress in conjunction with maturation. However, studies addressing more than two factors experi- mentally are missing thus far. Therefore, we investigated the combination of three main factors including abiotic as well as internal and external biotic stressors by conducting controlled infection experiments on pre-and post-spawning as well as on gravid oysters with opportunistic Vibrio sp. at two different tempera- tures. Based on mortality rates, infection intensity and cellular immune parameters, we provide experimental evidence that all three factors (i.e. reproductive investment, elevated temperatures and infection with oppor- tunistic Vibrio sp.) act additively to the phenomenon of oyster summer mortality, leaving post-spawning oyster more susceptible to SMS than pre-spawning and gravid oysters. While previous studies found that post-spawning oysters have a lower thermal tolerance and a reduced ability to withstand pathogen infec- tions, our study now allows to separate the relative contribution of different causative agents to oyster sum- mer mortality and pinpoint to infection with pathogenic Vibrio sp. being of highest importance. In addition we can add a mechanistic understanding for the higher losses after spawning during which the phagocytic ability of hemocytes was strongly impeded resulting in insufficient clearance of pathogens.
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Datasets listed in this publication series

  1. Wendling, CC (2013): Immunology of pacific oysters experiment.
  2. Wendling, CC (2014): Mortality of pacific oysters multi strain experiment.
  3. Wendling, CC (2013): Predicted probability of pacific oysters experiment.
  4. Wendling, CC (2013): Survival log of pacific oysters experiment.