Publication Abstracts


Influence of parasitism in controlling the health, reproduction and PAH body burden of petrolium seep mussels.

E.N. Powell, R.D. Barber, M.C. Kenicutt II, and S.E. Ford. 1999.
Deep-Sea Research I, 46:2053-2078


Petrolium seep mussels are often exposed to high hydrocarbon concentrations in their natural habitat and, thus, offer the opportunity to examine the relationship between parasitism, disease and contaminant exposure under natural conditions. This is the first report on the histopathology of cold-seep mussels. Seep mussels were collected by submersible from four primary sites in the Gulf of Mexico, lease blocks Green Canyon (GC) 184, GC-234, GC-233, and Garden Banks 425 in 550 to 650m water depth. Five types of parasites were identified in section: (1) gill "rosettes" of unknown affinity associated with the gill bacteriocytes, (2) gill "inclusions" similar to chlamydia/rickettsia inclusions, (3) extracellular gill ciliates, (4) body "inclusions" that also resemble chlamydial/rickettsial inclusions, and (5) Bucephalus-like trematodes. Comparison to shallow-water mytilids demonstrates that: (1) both have similar parasite faunas; (2) seep mytilids are relatively heavily parasitized; and (3) infection intensities are extremely high in comparison to shallow-water mytilids for Bucephalus and chlamydia/rickettsia. In this study, the lowest prevalence for chlamydia/rickettsia was 67%. Prevalence of 100% were recorded from three populations. Bucephalus prevalence was 70% in three of 10 populations. The paraste fauna was highly variable between populations. Some important parasites were not observed in some primary sites. Even within primary sites, some important parasits were not observed in some populations. Bucephalus may exert a significant influence on seep mussel population dynamics. Forty percent of the populations in this study are severely reproductively compromised by Bucephalus infection. Only a fraction of petroleum seep mussel populations are maintaining the entire beta-level population structure of this species. Variation in two parasites, gill ciliates and Bucephalus, explained most of the variation in PAH body burden between mussel populations. PAHs are known to be sequestered preferentially in gametic tissue. Bucephalus would be expected to reduce overall body concentrations exceeded 1ppm in 4 of 9 populations, a ratio significantly correlated with PAH body burden, even though some populations were characterized by body burdens exceeding 1ppm, suggesting that seep mussel may not be as sensitive to PAH exposure as are some shallow-water mytilid populations.

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