Freshwater mussels are one of the most imperiled groups of organisms in the world, and more than 30 species have gone extinct in the last century. While habitat alteration and destruction have contributed to the declines, the role of disease in mortality events is unclear. In an effort to involve veterinary pathologists in disease surveillance and the investigation of freshwater mussel mortality events, we provide information on the conservation status of unionids, sample collection and processing techniques, and unique and confounding anatomical and physiological differences. We review the published accounts of pathology and infectious agents described in freshwater mussels including neoplasms, viruses, bacteria, fungi, fungal-like agents, ciliated protists, Aspidogastrea, Digenea, Nematoda, Acari, Diptera, and Odonata. Of the identified infectious agents, a single viral disease, Hyriopsis cumingii plague disease, that occurs only in cultured mussels is known to cause high mortality. Parasites including ciliates, trematodes, nematodes, mites, and insects may decrease host fitness, but are not known to cause mortality. Many of the published reports identify infectious agents at the light or ultrastructural microscopy level with no lesion or molecular characterization. Although metagenomic analyses provide sequence information for infectious agents, studies often fail to link the agents to tissue changes at the light or ultrastructural level or confirm their role in disease. Pathologists can bridge this gap between identification of infectious agents and confirmation of disease, participate in disease surveillance to ensure successful propagation programs necessary to restore decimated populations, and investigate mussel mortality events to document pathology and identify causality.
|Title||Pathology and infectious agents of unionid mussels: A primer for pathologists in disease surveillance and investigation of mortality events|
|Authors||Susan Knowles, Michelle Dennis, Andrew McElwain, Eric Leis, Jordan C. Richard|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Veterinary Pathology|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||National Wildlife Health Center|