14 June 2024
Cancer hotspots mussels: Ports spread contagious disease

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Cancer Hotspots in Mussels: Understanding the Global Spread of Contagious Cancer

Seaports have been identified as significant hotspots for the spread of a rare contagious cancer known as MtrBTN2 that affects mussels. This unique disease involves the transmission of cancer cells between mussels, similar to how parasites spread from one host to another nearby. The impact of this contagious cancer is particularly notable in port areas, where the disease can be disseminated globally through maritime transport, posing a threat to coastal ecosystems.

The research, conducted by a team led by scientists from the CNRS and the University of Montpellier, sheds light on the role of seaports in facilitating the global transmission of MtrBTN2. The study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, highlights the higher incidence of this disease in port environments compared to natural habitats. By studying 76 mussel populations along the coast of southern Brittany and the Vendée, the researchers were able to pinpoint seaports as key locations for the spread of this contagious cancer.

Understanding the Mechanisms of Spread: Biofouling and Disease Transmission

One of the primary mechanisms through which MtrBTN2 spreads in seaport environments is biofouling. Biofouling occurs when diseased mussels attach themselves to ship hulls, allowing them to be transported over long distances. While in natural settings, contagious cancer transmission primarily occurs between mussels in the same bed, the concentrated activity in seaports amplifies the risk of disease dissemination.

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The findings of the study underscore the importance of implementing biofouling mitigation policies to curb the spread of MtrBTN2 and safeguard coastal ecosystems. By addressing the transmission pathways of this contagious cancer, such policies can help prevent further escalation of the disease in seaport regions and beyond.

Implications for Conservation and Ecosystem Management

The discovery of seaports as cancer hotspots in mussels has significant implications for conservation efforts and ecosystem management. As hubs for global maritime transport, seaports play a crucial role in shaping the spread of contagious diseases among marine organisms. By recognizing the role of seaports in facilitating the transmission of MtrBTN2, conservationists and policymakers can develop targeted strategies to protect vulnerable mussel populations and mitigate the impact of this rare cancer.

Moreover, the research highlights the interconnectedness of marine environments and the need for coordinated efforts to address disease transmission in coastal regions. By promoting sustainable practices in port operations and implementing measures to prevent biofouling, stakeholders can work towards preserving the health of marine ecosystems and minimizing the threat posed by contagious cancers in mussels.

Future Research Directions and Collaborative Initiatives

Moving forward, further research and collaborative initiatives are essential to deepen our understanding of cancer hotspots in mussels and develop effective strategies for disease management. By leveraging interdisciplinary approaches and engaging stakeholders from the scientific community, government agencies, and industry partners, researchers can advance our knowledge of contagious cancers in marine organisms and explore innovative solutions to mitigate their impact.

Additionally, fostering international cooperation and sharing best practices in biosecurity and disease prevention can enhance global efforts to combat the spread of MtrBTN2 and other infectious diseases in marine ecosystems. By prioritizing research on cancer hotspots in mussels and strengthening collaboration across different sectors, we can work towards a more resilient and sustainable future for coastal environments and the diverse species that inhabit them.

Links to additional Resources:

1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0044848622003335 2. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-33084-1 3. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/contagious-cancer-is-spreading-among-mussels-in-europe-180980808/

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Mussels, Cancer (disease), Biofouling

Mussel
Mussel () is the common name used for members of several families of bivalve molluscs, from saltwater and freshwater habitats. These groups have in common a shell whose outline is elongated and asymmetrical compared with other edible clams, which are often more or less rounded or oval. The word "mussel"...
Read more: Mussel

Cancer
Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. These contrast with benign tumors, which do not spread. Possible signs and symptoms include a lump, abnormal bleeding, prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss, and a change in...
Read more: Cancer

Biofouling
Biofouling or biological fouling is the accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae, or small animals where it is not wanted on surfaces such as ship and submarine hulls, devices such as water inlets, pipework, grates, ponds, and rivers that cause degradation to the primary purpose of that item. Such accumulation is...
Read more: Biofouling

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