The enzyme phenoloxidase is a critical component of the immunological defence of invertebrates. Previously, we have shown that the activity of phenoloxidase in Sydney rock oysters (Saccostrea glomerata) correlates with the severity of QX disease outbreaks. The aetiological agent of QX disease is the opportunistic protozoan parasite, Marteilia sydneyi. In this study, we examined the response of oyster haemocytes to challenge with M. sydneyi. Granular haemocytes were able to rapidly phagocytose parasite sporonts. Phagocytosis stimulated intracellular associated phenoloxidase activity that led to the complete melanisation of phagosomes. Significant differences in phagocytic indexes and phenoloxidase activities were observed between oysters selected for resistance to QX disease (QXR) and non-selected wild-type oysters. The data suggest that phagocytosis and cellular melanisation are critical defensive responses of Sydney rock oysters infected with M. sydneyi.
- disease resistance
- Marteilia sydneyi