A Review of Current State of Knowledge Concerning Perkinsus marinus Effects on Crassostrea virginica (Gmelin) (the Eastern Oyster)

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Published in: Veterinary Pathology, Vol. 50, No. 3, September 2013, p-404-411


The eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica (Gmelin), is both an important component of our estuaries and an important farmed food animal along the east and south coasts of the United States. Its populations have been significantly diminished in the wild due to decades of overfishing beginning in the 1890s. Unfortunately, in 1950, a new disease in eastern oysters caused by the protistan agent, Perkinsus marinus, was identified. The disease, resulting from infection with this protozoan, leads to high mortality of both wild and cultured eastern oysters. Current restoration efforts are hampered by the disease, as is the aquaculture of this economically important food. The parasite infects hemocytes and causes hemolytic anemia and general degeneration of the tissues, leading to death. Ongoing research efforts are attempting to develop oysters resistant to the disease. Transport regulations exist in may states. Infection with P. marinus is listed as a reportable disease by the World Health Organization.