ABSTRACT: Protozoan parasites of the genus Perkinsus are considered important pathogens responsible for mass mortalities in many wild and farmed bivalve populations. The present study was initiated to screen populations of the Indian edible oyster Crassostrea madrasensis, a promising candidate for aquaculture along the Indian coasts, for the presence of Perkinsus spp. The study reports the presence of P. beihaiensis for the first time in C. madrasensis populations from the Indian subcontinent and south Asia. Samples collected from the east and west coasts of India were subjected to Ray's fluid thioglycollate medium (RFTM) culture and histology which indicated the presence of Perkinsus spp. PCR screening of the tissues using specific primers amplified the product specific to the genus Perkinsus. The taxonomic affinities of the parasites were determined by sequencing both internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and actin genes followed by basic local alignment search tool (BLAST) analysis. Analysis based on the ITS sequences showed 98 to 100% identity to Perkinsus spp. (P. beihaiensis and Brazilian Perkinsus sp.). The pairwise genetic distance values and phylogenetic analysis confirmed that 2 of the present samples belonged to the P. beihaiensis clade while the other 4 showed close affinities with the Brazilian Perkinsus sp. clade. The genetic divergence data, close affinity with the Brazilian Perkinsus sp., and co-existence with P. beihaiensis in the same host species in the same habitat show that the remaining 4 samples exhibit some degree of variation from P. beihaiensis. As expected, the sequencing of actin genes did not show any divergence among the samples studied. They probably could be intraspecific variants of P. beihaiensis having a separate lineage in the process of evolution.
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 04/2012; 98(3):209-20. · 2.20 Impact Factor