DAO 76:205-214 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/dao076205

Spores of two fish microsporidia (Pseudoloma neurophilia and Glugea anomala) are highly resistant to chlorine

Jayde A. Ferguson, Virginia Watral, Adam R. Schwindt, Michael L. Kent*

Center for Fish Disease Research, Department of Microbiology, 220 Nash Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331-3404, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Pseudoloma neurophilia (Microsporidia) is the most common pathogen found in zebrafish Danio rerio research facilities. The parasite is associated with marked emaciation. Zebrafish laboratories usually disinfect eggs to prevent transmission of pathogens, typically with chlorine at 25 to 50 ppm for 10 min. The ability of chlorine to kill spores of P. neurophilia and 2 other microsporidia, Glugea anomala and Encephalitozoon cuniculi, was evaluated using 2 viability stains. SYTOX® Green was used to visualize dead spores, and live spores were identified by their ability to extrude polar tubes in Fungi-Fluor™ solution following UV exposure. Results with both stains were similar at various chlorine concentrations for P. neurophilia and G. anomala, but Fungi-Fluor was not useful for E. cuniculi, due to the much smaller spore size. Using the SYTOX stain, we found that 5 ppm chlorine for 10 min causes 100% death in spores of E. cuniculi, which was similar to findings in other studies. In contrast, the spores of P. neurophilia and G. anomala were much more resistant to chlorine, requiring >100 or 1500 ppm chlorine, respectively, to achieve >95% spore death. Repeating chlorine exposures with spores of P. neurophilia using solutions adjusted to pH 7 increased the efficacy of 100 ppm chlorine, achieving >99% spore inactivation. We corroborated our viability staining results with experimental exposures of zebrafish fry, achieving heavy infections in fry at 5 to 7 d post-exposure in fish fed spores treated at 50 ppm (pH 9). Some fish still became infected with spores exposed to 100 ppm chlorine (pH 9.5). This study demonstrates that spores of certain fish microsporidia are highly resistant to chlorine, and indicates that the egg disinfection protocols presently used by most zebrafish research facilities will not prevent transmission of P. neurophilia to progeny.

KEY WORDS: SYTOX Green · Fungi-Fluor · Pseudoloma neurophilia · Glugea anomala · Encephalitozoon cuniculi · Chlorine toxicity · Viability staining

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