Aphanomyces astaci is a specialized parasite on North American freshwater crayfish. Accidental introduction of A. astaci to Europe resulted in the lethal crayfish plague (CP). Later introductions of North American carrier crayfish to Europe has accelerated CP spread and established constant infection reservoirs. Due to CP, European freshwater crayfish are endangered, and the crayfish businesses suffer great economical losses. In Norway, CP is listed as a group A disease, and introduction of carrier crayfish is prohibited. Several outbreaks of CP have wiped out Norwegian populations of noble crayfish, and illegally introduced carrier crayfish was recently detected. Growing evidence indicate that CP may persist longer than previously thought, which complicates re-stocking activities. In
2005, CP killed reintroduced crayfish stocks in two Norwegian watercourses. Recently, the Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs asked the competent authorities to develop strategies to combat CP and signal crayfish in Norway.
The major objective of the proposed project is to develop and apply molecular methods for direct monitoring of A. astaci in water and environment in order to
- Explore the ecology of A. astaci in freshwater systems and
- Develop rapid, reliable and cost efficient tools for improved surveillance that will enhance sustainable management and use of freshwater crayfish.
Improved surveillance will include
- Early warning of CP infections
- Unveiling illegally introduced carrier crayfish, and
- Declare waters free of infection.
The project will further explore the persistence of CP in freshwater habitats and target mechanisms for prolonged survival. Methods for monitoring high- and low virulent CP-genotypes will be developed in collaboration with active project partners. The project involves collaboration with reputed national and international institutions that will ensure needed competence, provide relevant study areas, and enhance research networking
- Norwegian Institute of Nature Research (NINA), Lillehammer, Norway (Stein Ivar Johnsen)
- University of Oslo, Department of Biology, Microbial Evolutionary Research Group (MERG), Norway (Bente Edvardsen and Dag Klaveness)
- University of Kuopio (Finland), Department of Biosciences, Kuopio, Finland (Japo Jussila and Harri Kokko)
- Swedish Board of Fisheries, Institute of Freshwater Research, Drotningsholm, Sweden (Lennart Edsman)
- Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, Kuopio, Finland (Satu Viljamaa-Dirks)
- Charles University in Prague, Czeck Republic (Adam Petrusek)
- Universite de Poitiers, France (Frederic Grandjean)