A Mysterious Disease Is Infecting Northeast Clam Beds

Hugh Powell, Oceanus

This Oceanus article examines Quahog Parasite Unknown, a mysterious new threat to the shellfish aquaculture business. Code-named QPX, the parasite is an obscure, single-celled relative of slime mold that has both animal and fungal characteristics. QPX secretes a thick layer of mucus to ward off the clam’s immune response and was responsible for killing nine out of every ten clams in some plots when it first hit the Massachusetts coast in 1993. The article follows the efforts of Woods Hole scientists Roxanna Smolowitz and Rebecca Gast as they learn more about QPX and search for ways to prevent the disease. It also features links to related websites.

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Subject: Biology:Ecology:Symbiotic Relations:Mutualism, Biology:Ecology:Habitats:Marine, Biology:Microbiology, Microbiology:Microbiology and Health
Resource Type: Scientific Resources:Overview/Reference Work
Grade Level: General Public, College Lower (13-14), High School (9-12), Middle (6-8)
Ocean Environments: Coastal and Estuarine
Theme: Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Ecology