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Abalone farm discharges the withering syndrome pathogen into the wild

January 16, 2014

An intracellular bacterium Candidatus Xenohaliotis californiensis, also called Withering-Syndrome Rickettsia-Like Organism (WS-RLO), is the cause of mass mortalities that are the chief reason for endangerment of black abalone (Haliotis cracherodii). Using a real-time PCR assay, we found that a shore-based abalone farm (AF) in Santa Barbara, CA, USA discharged WS-RLO DNA into the ocean. Several other shore-based AFs discharge effluent into critical habitat for black abalone in California and this might affect the recovery of wild black abalone. Existing regulatory frameworks exist that could help protect wild species from pathogens released from shore-based aquaculture.