Pathogens co-transported with invasive non-native aquatic species: implications for risk analysis and legislation.
Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) can co-transport externally and internally other organisms including viruses, bacteria and other eukaryotes (including metazoan parasites), collectively referred to as the symbiome. These symbiotic organisms include pathogens, a small minority of which are subject to surveillance and regulatory control, but most of which are currently unscrutinized and/or unknown. These putatively pathogenetic symbionts can potentially pose diverse risks to other species, with implications for increased epidemiological risk to agriculture and aquaculture, wildlife/ecosystems, and human health (zoonotic diseases). The risks and impacts arising from co-transported known pathogens and other symbionts of unknown pathogenic virulence, remain largely unexplored, unlegislated, and difficult to identify and quantify. Here, we propose a workflow using PubMed and Google Scholar to systematically search existing literature to determine any known and potential pathogens of aquatic INNS. This workflow acts as a prerequisite for assessing the nature and risk posed by co-transported pathogens of INNS; of which a better understanding is necessary to inform policy and INNS risk assessments. Addressing this evidence gap will be instrumental to devise an appropriate set of statutory responsibilities with respect to these symbionts, and to underpin new and more effective legislative processes relating to the disease screening and risk assessment of INNS.