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Influence of abiotic factors on bacterial proliferation and anoxic survival of the sea mussel Mytilus edulis L.
Babarro, J.M.F.; de Zwaan, A. (2002). Influence of abiotic factors on bacterial proliferation and anoxic survival of the sea mussel Mytilus edulis L. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 273(1): 33-49.
In: Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. Elsevier: New York. ISSN 0022-0981, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Ammonium; Anoxic survival; Bacteria proliferation; pH; Salinity; Sea mussel; Temperature; Volatile fatty acids

Authors  Top 
  • Babarro, J.M.F.
  • de Zwaan, A., more

    The effect of several abiotic factors (salinity, temperature and pH) on bacterial proliferation and survival time of the sea mussel Mytilus edulis L. were studied under anoxic incubations. In addition, the presence in the incubation media of ammonium and the volatile fatty acids propionate and acetate, both excreted fermentation products of the bivalve, was tested.

    Anoxic incubations with seawater diluted with demineralised water showed at the lowest salinity (50% seawater, SW) a significant increase in the capacity of M. edulis to survive anoxia as compared to both 75% SW and control [100% SW, corresponding to 32 practical salinity units (psu)]. Formation of biotic sulphide and ammonium occurred in all incubations. However, bacterial proliferation was postponed by 2–3 days at lowest salinity and accordingly, concentrations of both compounds were lower. Anoxic survival profiles of mussels collected from different habitats in the Dutch Scheldt area, characterised by differences in salinity (range from 17 to 31 psu), corresponded with the above salinity effect. Walsoorden mussels (17 psu) showed the longest (P<0.001) survival time under anoxia (LT50=17.2 days) as compared with Paulina (27 psu) and Wemeldinge (31 psu) mussels (LT50=12.8 and 9.8 days, respectively). Condition index (ratio of soft body weight to shell volume) was not correlated with anoxic survival time in untreated mussels, although this was clearly the case when the antibiotic chloramphenicol was added to the anoxic seawater.

    Acidification of the anoxic incubation medium had a positive effect on survival time. LT50 values significantly (P<0.001) increased from 10.2 days at pH 8.1 to 11.6 and 11.5 days at pH 7.3 and 6.5, respectively. Biotic sulphide and ammonium accumulation as well as bacterial numbers were significantly lower at pH 7.3 and 6.5 as compared with pH 8.1. Anoxic incubations at 10 °C (LT50=12.0 days) strongly increased survival time as compared to 18 °C (LT50=5.9 days). The benefit of antibiotic addition was also stronger at lower temperature (10 °C).

    Addition of both propionate and acetate (0.5 mM) displayed no effect on mortality of mussels under anoxia, but ammonium (0.5 mM) caused a negative effect (P<0.001). Biotic sulphide and ammonium concentrations measured in both volatile fatty acid incubations were lower than the control situation, as well as total bacterial numbers.

    This study shows that environmental factors play a significant role in determining the course of bacterial infection and death of bivalves exposed to anoxia.

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