DAO 106:217-227 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02642

Development of the salmon louse Lepeophtheirus salmonis and its effects on juvenile sockeye salmon Oncorhynchus nerka 

E. Jakob1, T. Sweeten2, W. Bennett2, S. R. M. Jones2,*

1Fraunhofer Chile Research, Aquaculture Division, Carretera Austral Km 25, Quillaipe, Chile
2Fisheries & Oceans Canada, Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, British Columbia V9T 6N7, Canada
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Responses of sockeye salmon Oncorhynchus nerka during infection with Lepeophtheirus salmonis were assessed in controlled laboratory trials. Juvenile salmon were exposed to 100 copepodids fish-1 (Trials 1 and 2) or 300 copepodids fish-1 (Trial 3) at mean weights of approximately 40, 80 and 135 g, respectively. Infections occurred on all salmon in all trials, and mean abundances (infection densities) ranged between 3.3 and 19.4 lice fish-1 (0.08 and 0.44 lice g-1 fish) in Trial 1, between 7.2 and 18.3 (0.09 and 0.22) in Trial 2 and between 19.5 and 60.7 (0.15 and 0.46) in Trial 3. A cumulative mortality of 24.4% occurred in Trial 3. At attachment sites on gills, we observed hyperplasia of basal epithelial cells and fusion of secondary lamellae occasionally associated with a cellular infiltrate. At attachment sites on fins, partial to complete skin erosion occurred, with limited evidence of hyperplasia or inflammation. Scale loss and abrasions coincided with pre-adult lice around 20 d post infection (dpi). Plasma osmolality was significantly elevated in exposed fish in Trials 1 (21 dpi), 2 (15 and 36 dpi) and 3 (20 dpi), whereas haematocrit was significantly depressed in exposed fish in Trials 1 (21 and 28 dpi) and 3 (20 dpi). Plasma cortisol was significantly elevated in exposed fish at 20 dpi (Trial 3). Physiological changes and mortality were related to the intensity of infection and became most prominent with pre-adult stages, suggesting patterns of infection and response in sockeye salmon similar to those reported for Atlantic and Chinook salmon.


KEY WORDS: Sockeye salmon · Salmon lice · Physiology · Histopathology · Host response · Susceptibility


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Cite this article as: Jakob E, Sweeten T, Bennett W, Jones SRM (2013) Development of the salmon louse Lepeophtheirus salmonis and its effects on juvenile sockeye salmon Oncorhynchus nerka . Dis Aquat Org 106:217-227. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02642

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