DAO 55:37-44 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/dao055037

Susceptibility of two strains of rainbow trout (one with suspected resistance to whirling disease) to Myxobolus cerebralis infection

Ronald P. Hedrick1,*, Terry S. McDowell1, Gary D. Marty2, Geoffrey T. Fosgate1, Kaveramma Mukkatira1, Karin Myklebust1, Mansour El-Matbouli3

1Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, and
2Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616, USA
3Institute of Zoology, Fishery Biology and Fish Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Ludwig Maximilians, University of Munich, Kaulbachstrasse 37, 80539 Munich, Germany

ABSTRACT: The susceptibility of 2 strains of rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss, 1 from North America (TL) and 1 from Germany (GR), to Myxobolus cerebralis (the cause of salmonid whirling disease) was assessed following exposure to the infectious stages (triactinomyxons). Two laboratory experiments were conducted with age-matched rainbow trout of each strain. At the beginning of the study, the 2 trout strains were aged ca. 570 degree-days in Expt 1, and ca. 999 degree-days in Expt 2. In both experiments, replicate groups of each trout strain were exposed to 10, 100, 1000 or 10000 triactinomyxons (TAMs) fish-1 for 2 h. The fish were then held in aquaria receiving 15°C well-water. Severity of infection was evaluated 5 mo after exposure by presence of clinical signs (whirling and/or black tail), prevalence of infection, severity of microscopic lesions, and spore counts. Clinical signs of whirling disease were evident only in the younger fish exposed in Expt 1: These occurred first among TL rainbow trout at the highest dose at 6 to 7 wk post exposure and then 2 wk later in fish at the 1000 TAMs dose. Black tail was also observed among GR rainbow trout at the 10000 TAMs dose only, but in fewer fish. The prevalence of infection, spore numbers, and severity of microscopic lesions due to M. cerebralis among GR rainbow trout were less at all doses compared to TL rainbow trout. Risk of infection analyses showed that TL rainbow trout were more prone to infection at the lower doses than GR trout. Mean spore counts were consistently (10- to 100-fold) less in GR than TL trout at doses of 1000 TAMs or lower. Microscopic lesions increased with increasing dose in both strains of rainbow trout. The mechanisms underlying the greater resistance of the GR strain to M. cerebralis infections are unknown, but are under investigation as part of a long-term project to determine the basis for resistance and susceptibility of salmonid fishes to whirling disease.

KEY WORDS: Myxobolus cerebralis · Rainbow trout · Disease resistance · Whirling disease

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