AFLP-PCR and RAPD-PCR evidences of the transmission of the pathogen Aphanomyces astaci (Oomycetes) to wild populations of European crayfish from the invasive crayfish species, Procambarus clarkii.
Aphanomyces astaci (Oomycetes) is responsible for the crayfish plague disease. This species is endemic of North America and five genotypes have been described using RAPD-PCR. The red swamp crayfish, Procambarus clarkii, is one of the most widely spread North American species and invasive in the world. However, no outbreaks on its specific genotype, i.e., genotype D, have ever been described in nature. We investigated three major series of crayfish plague outbreaks in indigenous crayfish populations of Austropotamobius pallipes, located in the areas of influence of P. clarkii. All samples collected tested positive for A. astaci using a rnDNA ITS-PCR test. We also performed an AFLP-PCR analysis on 19 isolates, and found that all isolates belong to genotype D. These isolates exhibited similar properties, i.e., adaptation to warm temperatures. We demonstrate, for the first time, the transmission of A. astaci genotype D to indigenous European populations of crayfish, and confirm that the properties of adaptation to warm water temperatures seem to be a specific character of genotype D. The results of this work emphasize once more the need of controlling invasive species and its trade, since they can carry harmful pathogens with specific adaptations or increased virulence in new environments.