MtDNA allows the sensitive detection and haplotyping of the crayfish plague disease agent Aphanomyces astaci showing clues about its origin and migration.
The oomycete Aphanomyces astaci, the causative agent of crayfish plague, is listed as one of the 100 worst invasive species in the world, destroying the native crayfish populations throughout Eurasia. The aim of this study was to examine the potential of selected mitochondrial (mt) genes to track the diversity of the crayfish plague pathogen A. astaci. Two sets of primers were developed to amplify the mtDNA of ribosomal rnnS and rnnL subunits. We confirmed two main lineages, with four different haplogroups and five haplotypes among 27 studied A. astaci strains. The haplogroups detected were (1) the A-haplogroup with the a-haplotype strains originating from Orconectes sp., Pacifastacus leniusculus and Astacus astacus; (2) the B-haplogroup with the b-haplotype strains originating from the P. leniusculus; (3) the D-haplogroup with the d1 and d2-haplotypes strains originating from Procambarus clarkii; and (4) the E-haplogroup with the e-haplotype strains originating from the Orconectes limosus. The described markers are stable and reliable and the results are easily repeatable in different laboratories. The present method has high applicability as it allows the detection and characterization of the A. astaci haplotype in acute disease outbreaks in the wild, directly from the infected crayfish tissue samples.