Invasive rusty crayfish (Faxonius rusticus) populations in North America are infected with the crayfish plague disease agent (Aphanomyces astaci)

J Panteleit, T Horvath, J Jussila, J Makkonen, W Perry, R Schulz, K Theissinger, A Schrimpf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The American rusty crayfish, Faxonius rusticus, is an invasive species in parts of North America where it displaces native crayfish species. In Europe, various invasive North American crayfish species are carriers of the crayfish plague disease agent Aphanomyces astaci that causes devastating population declines of European crayfish. Little is known about either the presence or the influence of A. astaci in North America where it originates. Here, we attempted to isolate A. astaci from North American F. rusticus for the first time and compare it to the strains detected in Europe. We tested the infection status of 84 F. rusticus samples from 10 different locations in the midwestern United States that are outside of the F. rusticus native distribution range. We used quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) to assess the infection status in each individual, and we determined the mitochondrial haplotypes and multilocus microsatellite genotypes when it was possible. We detected A. astaci DNA in 9 individuals from 4 out of 10 locations. Analyses of the axenic culture isolates and the crayfish tissue samples by sequence analyses, haplotyping, and genotyping confirmed the results and revealed a novel A. astaci microsatellite genotype. Our results clearly identify F. rusticus as a host of A. astaci in North America. The threat of these strains to endangered crayfish species in North America remains unknown, but the potential of A. astaci infections should be considered when developing and implementing invasive species management plans for conservation purposes.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalFreshwater Science
StatePublished - 2019


  • freshwater crayfish conservation
  • quantitative real-time PCR
  • sequence analysis
  • microsatellites
  • invasion mechanisms
  • Aphanomyces astaci genotypes


  • Animal Sciences
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

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