Genomics, immune studies and diseases in bivalve aquaculture
Keywords:genomics, immunity, molluscs, diseases
Diseases are a critical bottleneck for the culture of bivalves causing important yield losses. The study of bivalve diseases has relied on histological techniques and has focused on pathogen morphology, the effect of external factors on the pathogens and infectivity, and on the development of immune and molecular diagnostic techniques. Recently, significant advances in the study of bivalve pathology have been reported; however, increased efforts using “omics tools” are required to explain key physiological/immunological processes. Transcriptomic analysis in parallel with detailed functional studies of gene expression and cell biology in in vitro and in vivo experimental models are needed. Another important factor is the identification of “resistance traits” and a deeper understanding of the processes that contribute to the welfare of bivalves in culture. Additionally, the definition of "abnormal mortalities" is critical for managing and legislating bivalve aquaculture. The new technologies clearly “opens the door” for the directed manipulation of bivalves to improve the modern intensive aquaculture systems. The future of bivalve research is exciting, and there is an obvious need to develop multidisciplinary international research studies involving research groups and growers organisations to work on shellfish pathology.