• Characterisation of norovirus contamination in an Irish shellfishery using real-time RT-qPCR and sequencing analysis

      Rajko-Nenow, Paulina; Keaveney, Sinéad; Flannery, John; O'Flaherty, Vincent; Doré, William (Elsevier, 2012)
      Norovirus (NoV) is the single most important agent of foodborne viral gastroenteritis worldwide. Bivalve shellfish, such as oysters, grown in areas contaminated with human faecal waste may become contaminated with human pathogens including NoV. A study was undertaken to investigate NoV contamination in oysters (Crassostrea gigas) from a shellfishery over a 24 month period from October 2007 to September 2009. Oyster samples were collected monthly from a commercial shellfish harvest area classified as category B under EU regulations, but that had had been closed for commercial harvesting due to its previous association with NoV outbreaks. Real-time reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) was used to determine the concentration of human NoV genogroups I and II (GI and GII) in monthly samples. Total NoV (GI and GII) concentrations in NoV positive oysters ranged from 97 to 20,080 genome copies g− 1 of digestive tissue and displayed a strong seasonal trend with greater concentrations occurring during the winter months. While NoV GII concentrations detected in oysters during both years were similar, NoV GI concentrations were significantly greater in oysters during the winter of 2008/09 than during the winter of 2007/08. To examine the NoV genotypes present in oyster samples, sequence analysis of nested RT-PCR products was undertaken. Although NoV GII.4 is responsible for the vast majority of reports of outbreaks in the community, multiple NoV genotypes were identified in oysters during this study: GI.4, GI.3, GI.2, GII.4, GII.b, GII.2, GII.12, and GII.e. NoV GI.4 was the most frequently detected genotype throughout the study period and was detected in 88.9% of positive samples, this was followed by GII.4 (43.7%) and GII.b (37.5%). This data demonstrates the diversity of NoV genotypes that can be present in sewage contaminated shellfish and that a disproportionate number of non-NoV GII.4 genotypes can be found in environmental samples compared to the number of recorded human infections associated with non-NoV GII.4 genotypes.
    • Enhancement of subtidal eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, recruitment using mesh bag enclosures

      O'Beirn, F.X.; Walker, R.L.; Heffernan, P.B. (National Shellfisheries Association, 1996)
      Eastern oysters, Crassostrea virginica, in the southeastern United States are found predominantly in the intertidal zone. In this study, mesh bags (3 and 6 mm) were deployed over collecting frames, and the patterns of oyster settlement on these collectors were compared against unmeshed controls at three tidal heights (intertidal, low water, and subtidal) over three sampling regimes (biweekly, monthly, and seasonal) at two sites. Within the biweekly sampling regime, the meshed collectors and controls had similar patterns of settlement at the respective tidal heights. For monthly samplers, mesh treatments maintained higher settlement subtidally whereas controls had highest settlement on the collectors at mean low-water level. Controls had highest recruitment intertidally for seasonal collectors, whereas mesh treatments had higher recruitment lower in the intertidal zone. Conclusions from this experiment were that the use of mesh-covered collectors enhanced subtidal oyster recruitment. Causes of observed increases in subtidal settlement in mesh collectors over unmeshed controls over time could be the result of a combination of factors: predator exclusion, larval entrainment, or reduced desiccation, which seemed to overcome the detrimental effects of increased fouling, resulting in reduced flow and possible hypoxic conditions within the mesh bags. Given the degree of recruitment and the sizes of the recruits attained within the mesh bags, the use of these methods to attain juveniles for commercial purposes would appear to be both feasible and viable, particularly for long periods (up to 6 1110) of deployment.
    • Organisms associated with oysters cultured in floating systems in Virginia, USA

      O'Beirn, F.X.; Ross, P.G.; Luckenbach, M.W. (National Shellfisheries Association, 2004)
      The number and abundance of macro-fauna! taxa was estimated from six floating structures (floats) used to culture the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) near Chincoteague Island, Virginia, USA. After a 10-mo grow-out period, all organisms found among and attached to the cultured oysters were counted. The final mean size of oysters was 80.5 (14.7 SD) mm. Overall, 45 species of macrofauna were recorded with the number of species in the floats ranging from 24 to 36. There was no relationship between the number of taxa and the density of oysters in the floats. Total abundances of associated organisms were estimated at 12,746/float to 92,602/float. These findings highlight the diverse (taxonomic and trophic) and abundant nature of communities associated with cultured oysters. They also provide a baseline set of information that may help more clearly define the interactions between oyster culture and the environment.
    • Risk factors associated with increased mortality of farmed Pacific oysters in Ireland during 2011

      Clegg, T.A.; Morrissey, T.; Geoghegan, F.; Martin, S.W.; Lyons, K.; Ashe, S.; More, S.J. (Elsevier, 2014)
      The Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas, plays a significant role in the aquaculture industry in Ireland. Episodes of increased mortality in C. gigas have been described in many countries, and in Ireland since 2008. The cause of mortality events in C. gigas spat and larvae is suspected to be multifactorial, with ostreid herpesvirus 1 (OsHV-1, in particular OsHV-1 μvar) considered a necessary, but not sufficient, cause. The objectives of the current study were to describe mortality events that occurred in C. gigas in Ireland during the summer of 2011 and to identify any associated environmental, husbandry and oyster endogenous factors. A prospective cohort study was conducted during 2010–2012, involving 80 study batches, located at 24 sites within 17 bays. All 17 bays had previously tested positive for OsHV-1 μvar. All study farmers were initially surveyed to gather relevant data on each study batch, which was then tracked from placement in the bay to first grading. The outcome of interest was cumulative batch-level mortality (%). Environmental data at high and low mortality sites were compared, and a risk factor analysis, using a multiple linear regression mixed effects model, was conducted. Cumulative batch mortality ranged from 2% to 100% (median = 16%, interquartile range: 10–34%). The final multivariable risk factor model indicated that batches imported from French hatcheries had significantly lower mortalities than non-French hatcheries; sites which tested negative for OsHV-1 μvar during the study had significantly lower mortalities than sites which tested positive and mortalities increased with temperature until a peak was reached. There were several differences between the seed stocks from French and non-French hatcheries, including prior OsHV-1 μvar exposure and ploidy. A range of risk factors relating to farm management were also considered, but were not found significant. The relative importance of prior OsHV-1 μvar infection and ploidy will become clearer with ongoing selection towards OsHV-1 μvar resistant oysters. Work is currently underway in Ireland to investigate these factors further, by tracking seed from various hatchery sources which were put to sea in 2012 under similar husbandry and environmental conditions.