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Title: Studies on the immune system of the edible cockle, Cerastoderma edule
Author: Woolton, E. C.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2006
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The edible cockle, Cerastoderma edule, is a marine bivalve of high commercial importance, in particular, in South Wales, UK. Similar to other commercial bivalves, C. edule can suffer mass mortality, resulting in multi-million pound losses to the fishing industry. Despite this major concern, little research has been devoted to the etiology of mass mortality. The present research characterises the immune defence reactions of C. edule and compares them with those of the marine mussel, M. edulis and the razor shell, Ensis siliqua. The effect of the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, phenanthrene, on the immunocompetence of all three species was also investigated. In addition to providing valuable information on understanding disease and mass mortality, the research also helped establish whether C. edule is a suitable sentinel organism for environmental monitoring. Results showed that the immunocompetence of C. edule was of a lower level than M. edulis, but of higher level than E. siliqua, and this was also reflected in the differing susceptibility of the three bivalves to phenanthrene exposure. Further studies concentrated on the haemocytic encapsulation response of C. edule, the common immune defence reaction towards invading metazoan parasites. Studies on the dynamics of capsule formation revealed that non-specific electrostatic forces and humoral plasma factors play a synergistic role in haemocyte attachment and encapsulation. Finally, encapsulation-related proteins (ERPs), potentially involved in mediating encapsulation, were identified. One putative ERP, histone H3, was found to significantly affect haemocyte spreading, thus revealing novel roles for histone H3 in innate immunity, both in invertebrates and vertebrates.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available