First detection of the invasive protozoan Haplosporidium pinnae in the critically endangered bivalve Pinna nobilis in the Southern Mediterranean Sea (Bizerte Lagoon, Tunis) and update of its current status

Published: Sep 6, 2023
Pinnidae pen shell Mass Mortality Haplosporidium pinnae Bizerte Lagoon Tunisia

Pinna nobilis (Linnaeus, 1758) populations have been severely damaged in the last few decades, and since early autumn 2016, a mass mortality event (MME) has drastically impacted populations in the Mediterranean Sea. Accordingly, the aim of the present study was to improve the knowledge on the status of P. nobilis populations in the Bizerte Lagoon (Tunisia) between 2016 and 2022. Before the MME, P. nobilis was found in the lagoon at depths from 1.5 to 6 m, with a density ranging from 2 to 30 ind/100 m². After the MME, mortality reached 100% in the monitored area, except in the eastern part of the Bizerte Lagoon near the Menzel Jemil site, where some living specimens were detected. Moreover, in 2022, successful recruitment was observed in the lagoon. Additionally, our results revealed the presence of Haplosporidium pinnae and Mycobacterium sp. in some living specimens sampled in the Bizerte Lagoon after the MME. This finding constitutes the first detection of both pathogens in Tunisia and in the entire Southern Mediterranean Sea.

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