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Appl Microbiol. 1971 Jun;21(6):1024-31.

Accumulation and elimination of coliphage S-13 by the hard clam, Mercenaria mercenaria.


Accumulation and elimination of viral particles by hard clams, Mercenaria mercenaria, were studied with the coliphage S-13 as a working model. Escherichia coli uptake and elimination were simultaneously monitored. Clams were exposed to low levels of S-13 (7 particles/ml) in running seawater for several days, achieving titers in tissues from 2 to more than 1,000 times the levels to which they had been exposed. Bacterial accumulation (previously established by other workers) was comparable. Upon exposure to virus-free running water, clams polluted to relatively low levels (100 plaque-forming units/ml) eliminated most of their bacterial contaminants in 24 to 48 hr. Viral contaminants, however, persisted for several days to weeks even under ideal conditions for clam activity, provided that the temperature remained below the inactivation threshold for the virus. Most of the accumulated virus appeared to be sequestered in the digestive gland. These sequestered particles are refractory to those mechanisms responsible for elimination of bacterial contaminants. This discrepancy points out the need for caution in evaluating the efficiency of shellfish depuration processes, especially if only a bacterial criterion is used as a monitoring system.

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