Immunity in molluscs: Recognition and effector mechanisms, with a focus on bivalvia

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The study of molluscan immune systems, in particular those of bivalve molluscs (e.g., clams, oysters, scallops, mussels), has experienced great growth in recent decades, mainly due to the needs of a rapidly growing aquaculture industry to manage the impacts of disease and the wider application of -omic tools to this diverse group of invertebrate organisms. Several unique aspects of molluscan immune systems highlighted in this chapter include the importance of feeding behavior and mucosal immunity, the discovery of unique levels of diversity in immune genes, and experimental indication of transgenerational immune priming. The development of comparative functional studies using natural and selectively bred disease-resistant strains, together with the potential but yet to be fully developed application of gene-editing technologies, should provide exciting insights into the functional relevance of immune gene family expansion and molecular diversification in bivalves. Other areas of bivalve immunity that deserve further study include elucidation of the process of hematopoiesis, the full characterization of hemocyte subpopulations, and the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying immune priming. While the most important aspects of the immune system of the largest group of molluscs, gastropods (e.g., snails and slugs), are discussed in detail in Chap. 12, we also briefly outline the most distinctive features of the immune system of another fascinating group of marine molluscs, cephalopods, which include invertebrate animals with extraordinary morphological and behavioral complexity.

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Advances in Comparative Immunology