Monitoring of pathogens in bivalve populations at commercial and experimental culture facilities



Over the years, there has been a diversification in the species of shellfish cultivated in Quebec, with the result that there are now mussel, scallop and soon soft-shell clam culture operations. Shellfish growers and industry operators are increasingly relying on the transfer technique to obtain higher quality spat. It has been proven that spat performance and population survival rate are directly related to the genetic traits of the population and therefore the origin of that population. Hence, spat collection and transfer to the cultivation site make it possible to increase the facility's productivity. However, such transfers are not without risks. Increased shellfish transfers and population densities can result in accidental introductions of new diseases and/or undesirable organisms that are harmful to the new environment.

The primary objective of this project is to assess the presence and intensity of pathogens in bivalve populations at commercial and experimental culture facilities in maritime Quebec. Some assessments have been carried out in the past for the purpose of specific transfers. However, the data are fragmentary and do not provide a clear picture of the presence of or changes in these pathogens. In addition to cataloguing the historical data, this project will systematically evaluate pathogen prevalence and intensity and determine the spatial and temporal (seasonal and annual) variability of pathogens in species with significant economic potential. For mussels, the most abundant commercial species, characterizations of farmed and wild populations will also be conducted to determine the possible impact of shellfish culture on pathogen prevalence and intensity.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2004 - 2007


Atlantic: Gulf of St. Lawrence, St. Lawrence Estuary

Principal Investigator(s)

Charley Cyr