Dr. Beatriz Novoa expresses the need of further research on gene studies about bivalve molluscs. (Photo: patologia.iim.csic.es)
Obtaining more resistant bivalves to disease, a challenge
Friday, May 04, 2012, 23:00 (GMT + 9)
A team of scientists from Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) is working on the identification of the genes of scallops, mussels and (fine and Japanese) clams, which are able to resist the attacks of pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.
Through the Institute of Marine Research (IIM), CSIC researchers aim to improve the resistance of these bivalves to different pests and reduce loss during the production phase.
The experts carried out the sequencing of thousands of genes of these molluscs in order to minimize the impact of some pests in their production.
This investigation began in 2010 and will be completed by 2014, La Opinion reported.
Some of the conclusions of this study will contribute to the assessment of its impact on the practical field. That is, it may be possible to apply it in clam and scallop seed breeding.
According to the head of the Department of Immunology and Genomic of the IIM, Beatriz Novoa, during the early or larval phase is when there is a higher death rate.
The attack of the pathogens causes great loss in the production phase, and one of the most difficult diseases to combat is toxic phytoplankton, Novoa said.
The appearance of this disease "entirely restricts scallop production in Galicia without a costly evisceration process," stressed the researcher.
She added: "It is essential to deepen the knowledge and the identification of genes in these marine organisms," bearing in mind how they are able to "resist" pathogens and even "adverse environment conditions."
Thanks to this study, it will be possible to perform a genetic selection in the most resistant clams or scallops to stress, food shortages, changes in water temperature or salinity.
"What we have done is a first step, an evaluation and assessment of the information that is already part of a database for scientists from other fields to use it," explained Novoa.
"They are public data. This is the part of the general interest. The implementation of the interest is a second step, we provide the base. Let’s see if one serves as a marker. And thirdly, we should consider knowledge, to observe the immune system of these animals. It is very interesting," she added.
Finally, she mentioned a curious fact that has been discovered so far: "The mussel, for example, is very strong. Its immune system kills bacteria, viruses, has a tremendous capacity to defend itself. It can be used to study natural antimicrobials because our antibiotics generate bacteria that are resistant to them."
By Analia Murias