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Effects on the Blue Crab Population of Coastal Georgia of a Disease Associated with Parasitic Dinoflagellate, Hematodinium sp.

Preliminary Survey of Infection Intensity and Prevalence of Parasitic Dinoflagellate in Blue Crabs from Waters Near Brunswick, Georgia

PI: Richard Lee (Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, Savannah, Georgia, USA)

Support: Georgia Sea Grant College Program (project number R/FS-4-PD)

Timeframe: 8/1/99 - 12/31/99 and 3/1/00 - 2/28/02 (complete)

Project Overview:
To use a molecular probe to determine the intensity and prevalence of the parasitic dinoflagellate Hematodinium sp. in blue crabs in salt marsh estuaries of coastal Georgia.


  • A primer PCR assay was developed to assay for Hematodinium in tissues and hemolymph of blue crabs.
  • Seasonal changes in Hematodinium infection in several salt marsh estuaries of coastal Georgia were determined.
    • During the winter and early spring, Hematodinium sp. were not detected in crabs, followed by a peak of infection in the late spring, absence of crabs in the summer, and a second peak of infection in the fall.
    • The absence of crabs in the summer appears to be due to the heavy mortality of crabs in the late spring as a result of Hematodinium disease.

Gruebl T, Frischer ME, Sheppard M, Neumann M, Maurer AN, Lee RF, 2002.  Development of a 18S rRNA gene targeted PCR based diagnostic for the blue crab parasite, Hematodinium sp. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms. D922.

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This page was updated October 13, 2006