Flow cytometry as a tool to quantify oyster defence mechanisms

Michael Goedken, Sylvain De Guise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


The fast growing oyster aquaculture industry is greatly hindered by Perkinsus marinus and Haplosporidium nelsoni which can kill up to 80% of the production. The relationship between parasites and oyster defence mechanisms is unclear. Two defence mechanisms of the Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) were quantified at the single cell level utilising flow cytometry. Phagocytosis was measured using fluorescent beads. Respiratory burst activity was quantified as the H2O2-specific increase in dichlorofluorescein- associated fluorescence upon stimulation. These two assays distinguished three populations of haemocytes (granulocytes, hyalinocytes and intermediate cells) with unique functional characteristics. Granulocytes were most active at phagocytosis and H2O2 production while hyalinocytes were relatively inactive. The intermediate cells had moderate phagocytic and respiratory burst activity. Flow cytometry can rapidly, accurately and directly quantify the morphology and function of a large number of individual cells, and will lead to a better understanding of the bivalve immune system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-552
Number of pages14
JournalFish and Shellfish Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aquatic Science
  • Environmental Chemistry


  • Crassostrea virginica
  • Flow cytometry
  • Haemocyte
  • Oyster
  • Phagocytosis
  • Respiratory burst

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