DAO 63:169-174 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/dao063169

Effects of gill abrasion and experimental infection with Tenacibaculum maritimum on the respiratory physiology of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar affected by amoebic gill disease

Mark D. Powell1,*, James O. Harris1, Jeremy Carson2, Jonathan V. Hill1

1School of Aquaculture, Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute, University of Tasmania, Locked Bag 1370, Launceston, Tasmania 7250, Australia
2Fish Health Laboratory, Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute, Department of Primary Industries, Water andEnvironment, PO Box 46, Kings Meadows, Tasmania 7249, Australia

ABSTRACT: The effects of gill abrasion and experimental infection with Tenacibaculum maritimum were assessed in Atlantic salmon Salmo salar with underlying amoebic gill disease. The respiratory and acid-base parameters arterial oxygen tension (PaO2), arterial whole blood oxygen content (CaO2), arterial pH (pHa), haematocrit and haemoglobin concentrations were measured at intervals over a 48 h recovery period following surgical cannulation of the dorsal aorta. Mortality rates over the recovery period were variable, with gill abrasion and inoculation with T. maritimum causing the highest initial mortality rate and unabraded, uninoculated controls showing the lowest overall mortality rate. Fish with abraded gills tended to show reduced PaO2 and lower CaO2 compared with unabraded fish. Infection with T. maritimum had no effect on PaO2 or CaO2. All fish showed an initial alkalosis at 24 h post-surgery/inoculation which was more pronounced in fish inoculated with T. maritimum. There were no significant effects of gill abrasion or infection upon the ratio of oxygen specifically bound to haemoglobin or mean cellular haemoglobin concentration. Histologically, 48 h following surgery, abraded gills showed multifocal hyperplastic lesions with pronounced branchial congestion and telangiectasis, and those inoculated with T. maritimum exhibited focal areas of branchial necrosis and erosion associated with filamentous bacterial mats. All fish examined showed signs of amoebic gill disease with multifocal hyperplastic and spongious lesions with parasome-containing amoeba associated with the gill epithelium. The results suggest that respiratory compromise occurred as a consequence of gill abrasion rather than infection with T. maritimum.

KEY WORDS: Atlantic salmon · Tenacibaculum maritimum · Respiration · Pathophysiology · Gill disease · Gill abrasion

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