Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Aphanomyces astaci presence in Japan: a threat to the endemic and endangered crayfish species Cambaroides japonicus?

Abstract

Spread of the crayfish plague pathogen, Aphanomyces astaci, by North American crayfish species is considered one of the main reasons for substantial declines and local extinctions of native European crayfish populations. Owing to human introductions, several American crayfish species have become established throughout the world, and thus pose a potential threat to indigenous crayfish populations susceptible to crayfish plague. In Japan, two such widespread alien species, Procambarus clarkii and Pacifastacus leniusculus, were introduced for aquaculture purposes in the late 1920s and since then successfully expanded their ranges. Aggressive interactions with alien crayfish along with habitat modifications have been considered primarily responsible for drastic declines in populations of the Japanese endemic crayfish, Cambaroides japonicus, observed in the last few decades. However, the presence of the crayfish plague pathogen, to which Japanese crayfish are susceptible, may be expected, and could contribute to these declines. Only recently, A. astaci has been reported from Taiwan, and to our knowledge no study focusing on its presence outside of the Western Palearctic has been conducted. To fill this gap, 54 P. clarkii and 47 P. leniusculus individuals from five different Japanese locations were screened using molecular methods recommended by the World Organization for Animal Health. Aphanomyces astaci DNA was detected in all studied populations, altogether in 61% and 21% of examined individuals of P. clarkii and P. leniusculus, respectively. The results provide the first evidence of A. astaci presence in Japan and highlight the threat of pathogen transmission to C. japonicus populations.