A number of bivalve species worldwide, including the Pacific oyster,Crassostrea gigas, have been affected by mass mortality events associated with herpesviruses and resulting in significant losses. A particular herpesvirus was purified from naturally infected larval Pacific oysters and its genome was entirely sequenced. This virus has been classified asOstreid herpesvirus 1 (OsHV-1) within the Malacoherpesviridae family. Since 2008, mass mortality outbreaks among C. gigas in Europe have been related to the detection of a variant of OsHV-1 called μVar.
Additional data is necessary to better describe mortality events in relation with environmental parameter fluctuations and OsHV-1 detection. For this purpose, a single batch of Pacific oyster spat was deployed in 4 different locations in the Marennes-Oleron area (France) including a pond (“claire”), a shellfish nursery and two locations in the field. Mortality rates were recorded based on regular observation and samples were collected to search and quantify OsHV-1 DNA by real time PCR. Although similar massive mortality rates were reported at 4 sites, mortality was detected earlier in the pond and in the nursery than at both field sites. This difference may be related to earlier increases of water temperature. Mass mortality was observed among oysters a few days after increases of the number of PCR positive oysters and viral DNA amounts were recorded. A initial increment in the number of PCR positive oysters was reported at both field sites during the survey in absence of significant mortality. During this period the water temperature was below 16°C.