The Sydney rock oyster (Saccostrea glomerata) forms the basis of an important aquaculture industry on the east coast of Australia. During the 1970s, production of S. glomerata began to decline, in part as a result of mortalities arising from Queensland unknown (QX) disease. Histological studies implicated the paramyxean parasite Marteilia sydneyi in the disease outbreaks. Disease zoning was implemented to prevent the spread of M. sydneyi-infected oysters. This control measure hindered rock oyster farming, which historically has relied on transferring wild-caught spat between estuaries for on-growing to market size and has not prevented the subsequent occurrence of QX disease in the Georges and Hawkesbury rivers in central New South Wales. Management of QX disease has been hampered by the complicated life cycle of M. sydneyi, with outbreaks of QX disease likely to be regulated by a combination of the abundance of intermediate host of M. sydneyi, environmental stressors, and the immunocompetence of S. glomerata. The future of the Sydney rock oyster industry relies on understanding these factors and progressing the industry from relying on farming wild-caught seed to the successful commercialization of hatchery-produced QX-resistant S. glomerata.
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Vol. 30 • No. 1