DAO 56:25-30 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/dao056025

Experimental vertical transmission of Piscirickettsia salmonis and in vitro study of attachment and mode of entrance into the fish ovum

J. J. Larenas1,*, J. Bartholomew2, O. Troncoso1, S. Fernández1, H. Ledezma1, N. Sandoval1, P. Vera1, J. Contreras1, P. Smith1

1Departamento de Patología Animal, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad de Chile, Casilla 2 Correo 15, Chile
2Department of Microbiology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA

ABSTRACT: Piscirickettsia salmonis is a pathogenic bacterial agent causing septicaemic disease in salmon. Since its isolation in Chile in 1989, P. salmonis has continually produced high mortality rates in salmon farms. Little information exists regarding the mechanisms of vertical transmission of this pathogen. Experimental vertical transmission was established in the present study by inoculation of male and female rainbow trout broodstock with P. salmonis. The bacterium was subsequently detected using indirect immunofluorescence in milt and coelomic fluid of the majority of inoculated broodstock (14/15). Bacteria were detected in the fry when 1 or both parents were inoculated, although none of the infected fry presented signs of the disease. P. salmonis was also detected in progeny obtained through fertilisation ova from non-inoculated females incubated in a medium containing a bacterial suspension, demonstrating transmission during the process of fertilisation. Ova infected in vitro were examined at sample periods from 30 s to 60 min using scanning electron microscopy. This demonstrated that the bacterium attaches to the ova by means of membrane extensions, structures which we have called ┼ĺpiscirickettsial attachment complex┬╣ (PAC) and which would allow later penetration into the ovum.

KEY WORDS: Bacteria · Piscirickettsia salmonis · Piscirickettsiosis · Vertical transmission · Scanning electron microscopy · Virulence factor

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