DAO 102:217-224 (2013)  -  doi:10.3354/dao02555

Sealworm Pseudoterranova decipiens s.s. infection of European smelt Osmerus eperlanus in German coastal waters: ecological implications

Thomas Kuhn1, Tim Benninghoff2, Horst Karl3, Thomas Landry4, Sven Klimpel1,*

1Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), Medical Biodiversity and Parasitology, Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (SGN), Goethe-University (GO), Institute for Ecology, Evolution and Diversity, Senckenberganlage 25, 60325 Frankfurt/Main, Germany
2German Diabetes Center (DDZ), Leipniz Center for Diabetes Research at the Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Institute of Clinical Biochemistry and Pathobiochemistry, Auf’m Hennekamp 65, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany
3Department of Safety and Quality of Milk and Fish Products, Federal Research Institute for Nutrition and Food, Max Rubner-Institut, Palmaille 9, 22767 Hamburg, Germany
4Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Gulf Region, PO Box 5030, Moncton, New Brunswick E1C 9B6, Canada
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: European smelt Osmerus eperlanus (n = 501) from the German Wadden Sea (North Sea) near the city of Cuxhaven were examined for their infestation with parasitic anisakid nematodes, especially with sealworms of the genus Pseudoterranova. The distribution of third-stage larvae (L3) in the musculature and viscera of the fish was analyzed. In total, we isolated 543 L3 from the hosts’ body cavity and musculature. A subsample of 105 larvae were identified as the (sibling) species P. decipiens s.s. using direct sequencing of the highly variable ribosomal ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 genetic marker. The mean abundance was 1.1, the mean intensity was 2.3 P. decipiens s.s. and the prevalence was 47.3%. Total length and total weight, but not Fulton’s condition factor (K), were significantly different in infected compared to uninfected smelt. No correlation was found between the total length of infected fish and the intensity of anisakid nematodes. The vast majority of P. decipiens s.s. was found in the musculature of the smelt. More than half (55.7%) of all nematodes were located in the 3 parts of the epaxial musculature, whereas 18.4 and 26.0% were found in the hypaxial musculature and the compartments of the tail muscles, respectively.

KEY WORDS: North Sea · Wadden Sea · Anisakid nematodes · Species complex · Phoca vitulina · Zoonosis

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Cite this article as: Kuhn T, Benninghoff T, Karl H, Landry T, Klimpel S (2013) Sealworm Pseudoterranova decipiens s.s. infection of European smelt Osmerus eperlanus in German coastal waters: ecological implications. Dis Aquat Org 102:217-224

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