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Herpes virus in Irish oysters and identification of resistant stocks (HERPISH)
Start date: Jun 1, 2013, End date: May 31, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The Pacific oyster is the most commercially important oyster in Europe. In recent years large mortalities of this oyster have had a significant economic impact in a number of European countries. Though in many cases due to a range of complex aetiologies one of the main factors associated with these mortalities has been the presence of a herpes virus. Though initially described in oysters in Europe following mortalities in oyster hatcheries, ostreid herpes virus has now been found in Pacific oysters as far afield as New Zealand and Australia thus having a global impact on oyster production. Shellfish are hard to treat when exposed to disease due to the high population densities involved, the environment in which they are found and that immunisation is not a possibility due to their lack of an adaptive immune response which prevents the development of immunity as acquired in vertebrates. Treatment and control mechanisms tend to focus on long term solutions such as identification of resistant traits and breeding for the inclusion of these traits. Additionally, over time some disease resistance can develop inherently in an exposed population. Also, local adaptations related to environment, husbandry and other stressors may also play a role in the development of resistance.In this study, the potential resistance of a number of populations of cultured oysters will be assessed in Ireland and the basis of this resistance will be investigated using the RNA-sequencing methodology. This methodology has recently been developed and is an innovative tool to allow detection of different expressed genes that applied to resistant and susceptible oyster families will allow for the identification of genes associated with resistance against herpes virus. Identified traits will be used as a mechanism to identify less susceptible oysters and to allow future development of selective breeding programs both in Ireland and in Europe generally.

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