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J Invertebr Pathol. 2012 Jun;110(2):234-46. doi: 10.1016/j.jip.2012.03.012. Epub 2012 Mar 14.

Advances in our understanding of the global diversity and distribution of Hematodinium spp. - significant pathogens of commercially exploited crustaceans.

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Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary, Gloucester Point, VA 23062, USA.


Hematodinium species are parasitic dinoflagellates known to infect a growing number of marine crustacean genera from around the world, many of which support important commercial fisheries. Affected hosts undergo dramatic pathological alterations to their organs, tissues and hemolymph. There are no known control measures for this disease. Economically important wild fished hosts known to be susceptible to Hematodinium spp. include Tanner crabs Chionoecetes bairdi and snow crabs Chionoecetes opilio in the Northeast Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, blue crabs Callinectes sapidus from the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States, and Norway lobsters Nephrops norvegicus and Edible crabs Cancer pagurus from European waters. In recent years, several farmed aquatic crustaceans in China have also been negatively impacted by Hematodinium-associated diseases, likely representing an emerging issue for that expanding industry. Molecular sequence data indicates that there are two species, Hematodinium perezi, and a second species, currently unnamed, infecting hosts from the Northern Hemisphere. Three subtly different H. perezi genotypes have been identified infecting hosts from different geographical locations: the English Channel, the eastern seaboard of the United States and Gulf of Mexico, and eastern China. Genotypic variability between isolates of the Hematodinium sp. infecting hosts from the North Atlantic and North Pacific has also been reported, though it is unclear whether there is any correlation with host or location. Identification of Hematodinium species (and genotypes of H. perezi) is largely dependent upon geographical location, rather than host species. However this is not exclusive, as both Hematodinium species can be found infecting multiple species from same location, as is the case in the English Channel.

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