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Xelect and Orkney Shellfish Hatchery develop new DNA test for Bonamia

June 18, 2021  By Hatchery International staff

(Photo: Xelect)

Aquaculture genetics specialist Xelect has been working with Orkney Shellfish Hatchery to develop a new innovation to detect the Bonamia pathogen in European Flat Oysters.

“We know that our oysters are exceptional, and now we can also demonstrate that they’re disease-free, too,” said Nik Sachlikidis, owner of Orkney Shellfish Hatchery. “This is another demonstration of our commitment to using science-based, cutting-edge technology to provide the highest standard possible.”

Bonamia ostreae is parasitic infection that is lethal to shellfish. It has been linked to a major decline in wild Native Oyster populations. Though Bonamia testing is widely available, the method is typically “destructive” as it damages or kills the oyster in order to conduct a proper test. This limits the ability of hatcheries to identify the disease in its broodstock.

Xelect has adapted its “tried and tested” Taqman Assay method that tests for the presence of the pathogen from a filtered water sample – a technique called environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis.


“Using a highly sensitive DNA test, we can sample the waters the oysters live in to identify the presence of the pathogen. It’s an extremely cost-effective and humane appraoch, and the oysters don’t even need to leave their hatchery,” said Dr. Paolo Ruggeri, Xelect scientific officer.

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