Perkinsus beihaiensis (Perkinsozoa) in oysters of Bahia State, Brazil

Abstract This study reports the pathogen Perkinsus beihaiensis in oysters of the genus Crassostrea on the coast of the State of Bahia (Brazil), its prevalence, infection intensity and correlation with salinity. Oysters (n = 240) were collected between October and December 2014 at eight sampling stations between latitudes 13°55'S and 15°42'S. The laboratory procedures included macroscopic analysis, histology, culture in Ray's fluid thioglycollate medium (RFTM), Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and DNA sequencing. PCR and sequencing have been used for the genetic identification of oysters as well. Two species of oysters have been identified: Crassostrea rhizophorae and C. brasiliana. In both oyster species P. beihaiensis was the only Perkinsus species detected. In C. rhizophorae, the average prevalence was 82.8% by histology and 65.2% by RFTM. In C. brasiliana, the prevalences were 70.5% and 35.7%, respectively. The higher prevalence of P. beihaiensis in C. rhizophorae was probably influenced by salinity, with which was positively correlated (r> 0.8). In both oysters, P. beihaiensis was located mainly in the gastric epithelium. The infection was generally mild or moderate, without apparent harm to the hosts, but in cases of severe infection, there was hemocytical reaction and tissue disorganization. The generally high prevalence in the region suggests that oysters should be monitored with respect to this pathogen, especially in growing areas.