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Development of a modified assay for use in temperate waters and its application through an assessment of stress tolerances among oyster stocks (Crassostrea virginica) with varying levels of heterozygosity



There are many factors contributing to oyster losses, but for the most part, all these factors are related to stress. Stress can be caused by sub-optimal husbandry practices, environmental conditions or the presence of pathogens. Rapid initial assessments of bivalve immune status can be measured using cellular biomarkers, in lieu of the more traditional long term indicators such as growth rates, mortality and condition index. The present investigation will verify the potential for error when using a cellular biomarker (neutral red retention assay or NRA) in oysters exposed to low water temperatures and attempt to improve this method in a controlled setting, so that it can be applied with confidence in the field. Fitness of oyster stock sources will be assessed by measuring level of genetic variation in a population (heterozygosity). Once levels have been measured, stock sources with the highest and lowest levels of heterozygosity will be assessed for their tolerance to stressful conditions.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2011 - 2013


Atlantic: Gulf of Maine, Scotian Shelf

Principal Investigator(s)

Carla Hicks

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