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Hot Topic Article: Invasive crayfish and crayfish plague on the move....;Dis Aquat Org 98:85-94.

A group of European scientists, led by Lucian Parvulescu of the West University of Timisoara, Romania, report on the spread of crayfish plague in Europe, a direct result of invasive North American crayfish species. The following abstract comes from the Diseases of Aquatic Organisms web site (

ABSTRACT: Native European crayfish, such as Astacus leptodactylus, are threatened, among other factors, by the crayfish plague agent Aphanomyces astaci, dispersed by invasive North American crayfish. Two of these invaders, Pacifastacus leniusculus and Orconectes limosus, have extended their distribution in the River Danube catchment; the latter was detected for the first time in Romania in 2008. We monitored, at monthly intervals for over 2 yr, occurrence of native A. leptodactylus and invasive O. limosus at 6 sites on the Romanian Danube and checked for the invasive species in 4 of its tributaries. Between January 2009 and March 2011, the relative abundances of O. limosus steadily increased with time, while the native A. leptodactylus dramatically decreased in abundance. O. limosus expanded downstream at a rate of ca. 15 km yr−1; in August 2011, it was already present in the upper 105 km of the Romanian Danube. An agent-specific real-time PCR analyses demonstrated the presence of A. astaci DNA in at least 32% of the analysed invasive (n = 71) and 41% of the native (n = 49) crayfish coexisting in the Danube. Furthermore, A. astaci was also detected in A. leptodactylus captured about 70 km downstream of the O. limosus invasion front (at the time of sampling). Assuming a steady rate of expansion, O. limosus may invade the sensitive Danube delta area in the mid-2060s, even without long-distance dispersal. The crayfish plague agent, however, may reach the delta substantially earlier, through dispersal downstream among populations of native crayfish.
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