Development of Sampling Protocols and Diagnostic Tools for Assessment of Freshwater Mussel Health

Science Center Objects

Assessing Impacts of Emerging and Established Diseases to Aquatic Ecosystems

The role of disease in freshwater mussel declines has been largely ignored due to the lack of appropriate diagnostic tools. Furthermore, health assessment of mussels in conjunction with restoration and propagation has not been considered during stocking and augmentation activities. This project will develop standard techniques for nonlethal sampling of freshwater mussels to diagnose disease and assess health condition. The techniques and protocols developed from the project will provide a framework for standardized health monitoring of freshwater mollusk populations in any water body and propagation facility.

The overall goal of our study is to develop standard techniques to evaluate the health of mussels in any water body or propagation facility and diagnostic tools for identification of potential causes of mortality events.

The objectives of the project include:

  1. Establish standardized procedures for nonlethal collection of biological samples (e.g., hemolymph, mantle, foot) for diagnostic tests.
  2. Determine optimal conditions to culture bacteria associated with freshwater mussels.
  3. Identify key physiological (metabolic and lipid) markers to be used as diagnostic tools.
  4. Provide training to resource managers and biologists on use of health monitoring tools in restoration, propagation and other conservation activities.