Infection of Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) by the parasite Hematodinium sp.: insights from 30 years of field observations



Molto-Martin I, Neil DM, Coates CJ, MacKenzie SA, Bass D, Stentiford GD & Albalat A (2024) Infection of Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) by the parasite Hematodinium sp.: insights from 30 years of field observations. Royal Society Open Science, 11 (1).

The Norway lobster, Nephrops norvegicus, is an important representative of the benthos and also supports valuable fisheries across Europe. Nephrops are susceptible to infection by Hematodinium sp., an endoparasitic dinoflagellate that causes morbidity and mortality. From an epizootiological perspective, the Clyde Sea Area (CSA; west of Scotland) is the best-studied Hematodinium–Nephrops pathosystem, with historical data available between 1988 and 2008. We have revisited this pathosystem by curating and updating prevalence values, differentiating host traits associated with disease exposure and progression, and comparing Hematodinium sp. disease dynamics in the CSA to other locations and to other decapod hosts (Cancer pagurus, Carcinus maenas). Prevalence from a 2018/2019 survey (involving 1739 lobsters) revealed Hematodinium sp. still mounts a synchronized patent infection in the CSA; hence this pathogen can be considered as enzootic in this location. We highlight for the first time that Nephrops size is associated with high severity infection, while females are more exposed to Hematodinium sp. More generally, regardless of the host (Norway lobster, brown and shore crabs) or the geographical area (Ireland, Wales, Scotland), Hematodinium sp. patent infections peak in spring/summer and reach their nadir during autumn. We contend that Hematodinium must be considered one of the most important pathogens of decapod crustaceans in temperate waters.

marine parasite; dinoflagellate; fisheries; decapod crustaceans; disease connectivity; long-term datasets

Royal Society Open Science: Volume 11, Issue 1

Publication date31/01/2024
Publication date online31/01/2024
Date accepted by journal05/12/2023
PublisherThe Royal Society

People (3)


Dr Amaya Albalat

Dr Amaya Albalat

Senior Lecturer, Institute of Aquaculture

Professor Simon MacKenzie

Professor Simon MacKenzie

Professor & Head of Inst of Aquaculture, Institute of Aquaculture

Miss Irene Moltó Martín

Miss Irene Moltó Martín

PhD Researcher, Institute of Aquaculture