Histopathology and a real-time PCR assay for detection of Bonamia ostreae in Ostrea edulis cultured in western Canada.
Bonamia ostreae is an intracellular haplosporidian parasite in European flat oysters Ostrea edulis that occurs on both coasts of the United States and causes significant mortality in Europe. Canada was considered free of B. ostreae until 2004, when it was first detected in O. edulis obtained for laboratory study from a western Canadian oyster farm. Bonamia ostreae was confirmed in O. edulis at the index farm in November 2004 using histopathology, conventional polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays, restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis, and sequencing of the PCR product. Archived samples of European flat oysters obtained from the index farm between 1999 and 2004 (n=343) were re-examined and all samples collected before 2003 (n=306) were confirmed negative for B. ostreae by histopathology (n=306) and PCR (n=62). In archived samples from 2003, B. ostreae was detected in 3 of 37 O. edulis by histopathology (n=2) and/or PCR (n=2). Also, records indicate that B. ostreae was not detected in O. edulis (n=348) from five other locations in western Canada between 1986 and 2000. To better understand the distribution and prevalence of B. ostreae in western Canada, 607 oysters from the index farm and 2 additional farms were sampled in the summer of 2005. All 3 farms had been stocked with O. edulis spat from the State of Washington, USA, where B. ostreae is endemic. Samples were analysed by histopathology and a new real-time PCR that amplifies a 68-bp target DNA fragment. B. ostreae was detected in all three locations, with prevalence ranging from 0.5 to 11.1%. Diagnostic sensitivity of the real-time PCR method was consistently greater than histopathology. Also, preliminary evidence supports the conclusion that real-time PCR on paraffin sections is more sensitive than histopathology; B. ostreae DNA was confirmed in 4 oysters by real-time PCR on paraffin-embedded tissues (and independently confirmed on unfixed tissues) that was not detected by histopathology. As a result of these findings, O. edulis spat are no longer allowed to be imported from endemic areas into Canada.