Rey Planellas S & Albalat A (2020) The effect of Hematodinium sp. Infection on the behaviour of Norway lobsters (Nephrops norvegicus, Linnaeus 1758) [Hematodinium in Norway Lobsters]. ASAB virtual conference 2020, virtual, 16.07.2020-16.07.2020.
The parasitic dinoflagellate Hematodinium sp. is considered an important pathogen to a number of marine crustacean species including edible crabs (Cancer pagurus), shore crabs (Carcinus maenas), velvet crabs (Necora puber) and brown shrimp (Crangon crangon). Furthermore, Hematodinium sp. is now considered the most significant known pathogen of Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus). While a substantial information is available on the impact that this parasite has on the physiology of Nephrops norvegicus very little is known on whether the Hematodinium sp. drives any specific changes in the host behaviour that could be advantageous to the parasite progression and eventual dispersion by sporulation.
In this research, we have developed an ethogram that captures behaviours displayed by Nephrops norvegicus; we captured behavioural changes of N. norvegicus prior to a Hematodinium sp. sporulation event and we have also investigated place preference (burrow versus aerated areas), feed motivation and activity of non-infected animals versus infected ones.
Nephrops norvegicus infected with Hematodinium sp. displayed more grooming behaviours; were more active and more animals fed in the feeding motivation test. However, infected animals showed a similar preference to stay inside the burrow (both when it was aeriated and non-aeriated) compared with non-infected ones, which is contrast to what would be expected from a parasite progression and dispersion perspective. Finally, recordings of sporulation events have highlighted the dramatic effects that this process has from an energy perspective.