DAO 40:211-218 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/dao040211

Effect of salinity on hatching, survival and infectivity of Anguillicola crassus (Nematoda: Dracunculoidea) larvae

R. S. Kirk1,2,*, C. R. Kennedy1, J. W. Lewis2

1School of Biological Sciences, University of Exeter, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter, Devon EX4 4PS, United Kingdom
2Division of Biology, School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, United Kingdom
*Address for correspondence: Crucian, PO Box 1051, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT2 5WX, United Kingdom. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: The effect of salinity on hatching, larval survival and infectivity of Anguillicola crassus was studied under experimental conditions using eggs obtained from naturally infected eels. Egg hatching rate, second-stage larval survival and larval infectivity were maximal in fresh water and declined with increase in salinity. Larvae survived up to 100 d in fresh water, 70 d in 50% sea water and 40 d in 100% sea water. Infectivity experiments demonstrated that salinity influenced transmission success throughout the life cycle by decreasing total infectivity of the larval population in utero within female A. crassus and when larvae were free-living in the aquatic environment. Infectivity was age-dependent in relation to salinity. Larvae were infective to intermediate and paratenic hosts for up to 80 d in fresh water, 21 d in 50% sea water and up to 8 d in 100% sea water. The data confirm field observations that infection levels decrease with an increase in salinity. The study contributes to experimental verification of the colonization abilities of A. crassus and supports the hypothesis that A. crassus can be disseminated and transmitted in brackish water. The importance of regular monitoring and stringent hygiene practices in the transportation of eels is emphasised.

KEY WORDS: Anguillicola crassus · Parasitic nematode · Eels · Swimbladder · Salinity · Egg hatch · Larval survival · Infectivity

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