DAO 72:171-178 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/dao072171

Experimental transmission of Enteromyxum leei to freshwater fish

A. Diamant1,*, S. Ram1,2, I. Paperna2

1Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, National Center for Mariculture, PO Box 1212, North Beach, Eilat 88112, Israel
2Department of Animal Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, PO Box 12, Rehovot, Israel 76100

ABSTRACT: The myxosporean Enteromyxum leei is known to infect a wide range of marine fish hosts. The objective of the present study was to determine whether freshwater fish species are also receptive hosts to this parasite. Seventeen species of freshwater fish were experimentally fed E. leei-infected gut tissue from donor gilthead sea bream Sparus aurata obtained from a commercial sea bream cage farm. Four of the tested species, tiger barb Puntius tetrazona, zebra danio Danio rerio, oscar Astronotus ocellatus and Mozambique tilapia Oreochromis mossambicus, were found to be susceptible with prevalences ranging from 53 to 90%. The course of infection and pathology was limited to the gut mucosa epithelium and was similar to that observed in marine hosts. Little is known of the differences in physiological conditions encountered by a parasite in the alimentary tract of freshwater vs. marine teleost hosts, but we assume that a similar osmotic environment is maintained in both. Parasite infectivity may be influenced by differences in the presence or absence of a true stomach, acidic gastric pH and digestive enzyme activity both in the stomach and intestine. Variability in susceptibility among species may also stem from differences in innate immunity. Dimensions of spores produced in the donor sea bream and recipient freshwater species are variable in size, as previously observed in other captive marine host species.

KEY WORDS: Direct transmission · Myxosporea · Sparus aurata · Danio · Oreochromis · Puntius · Astronotus

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