One Perkinsus species may hide another: characterization of Perkinsus species present in clam production areas of France.
Although clam populations in France are known to be infected with protozoans of the genus Perkinsus, no molecular characterization was previously performed on these parasites. Considering that several members of this genus have been associated with mortalities of molluscs worldwide, a study was undertaken in order to characterize these parasites in France. For that purpose, clams, Ruditapes philippinarum and R. decussatus, collected from different production areas and found to be infected with Perkinsus sp. in thioglycolate culture medium, were selected for PCR-RFLP tests and sequencing. Perkinsus olseni was detected in all the investigated areas and results also suggested the presence of P. chesapeaki in Leucate, a lagoon on the Mediterranean coast and in Bonne Anse in Charente Maritime, on the Atlantic coast. Clonal cultures from both detected species were produced in order to describe and compare in vitro stages. Differences in size between both Perkinsus spp. were noticed especially for schizonts and zoosporangia. Lastly, in situ hybridization tests allowed confirmation of the presence of both species in the same R. decussatus population and even in same clams. This is the first detection of P. chesapeaki in Ruditapes species and outside North America, which questions its introduction into Europe.