Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Invasive slipper limpets Crepidula fornicata are hosts for sterilizing digenean parasites.

Abstract

Invasion and spread of alien species can drive ecosystem changes, such as, the dynamics of infectious diseases. The non-native, marine gastropod Crepidula fornicata has become established across European coastlines over the last century, but there remains little insight into its disease carrying capacity and potential role as a source/sink of parasites. To address this knowledge gap, we surveyed limpets from two sites in South Wales, UK for signatures of disease/pathology using polymerase chain reaction-based methods (haemolymph) and histology (solid tissue). We encountered trematode-like parasites in ~1% individuals (5 out of 462). Three limpets displayed gross damage in the gonad, i.e. castration, and encysted metacercariae were found in the muscle of two other individuals. On the basis of 28S rDNA and internal transcribed spacer 2 genomic targets, we identified the gonad-infecting trematodes as members of the family Microphallidae - putative novel species related to the genus Longiductotrema. Earlier reports suggest that C. fornicata is not a host for trematode parasites in either its native or alien range but may act as a sink due to its filter feeding lifestyle. We provide clear evidence that C. fornicata is parasitized by at least one trematode species at two sites in Wales, UK, and likely act as a spillback or accidental host among native littorinids.