DAO 81:203-217 (2008)  -  doi:10.3354/dao01934

Screening and characterisation of potentially pathogenic bacteria associated with Atlantic cod Gadus morhua larvae: bath challenge trials using a multidish system

Nina Sandlund*, Øivind Bergh

Institute of Marine Research, PO Box 1870 Nordnes, 5817 Bergen, Norway

ABSTRACT: In intensive aquaculture systems, high concentrations of nutrients and high densities of fish larvae provide favorable conditions for opportunistic pathogenic bacteria to flourish. We screened potentially pathogenic bacterial strains isolated from moribund Atlantic cod Gadus morhua larvae, pollack Pollachius pollachius, coalfish Pollachius virens, Atlantic halibut Hippoglossus hippoglossus, rotifers, algae and water samples from different hatcheries. Three identical challenge experiments tested a total of 53 strains. A multidish system was used: cod eggs were placed in single wells, together with 2 ml of sterile seawater, and exposed to the bacterial cultures. Final bacterial concentrations in the wells were 106 and 104 CFU ml–1. Eggs and larvae not exposed to bacteria were used as unchallenged controls.  Challenged controls were exposed to Vibrio anguillarum strain 610. Eggs were challenged approximately 48 h prior to hatching and mortality was recorded daily throughout the yolk-sac period. In spite of the high challenge dose of 106 CFU ml–1, only 5 bacterial strains tested caused higher mortality than the unchallenged controls. Four of these strains were identified by 16S rDNA and gyrase B gene (GyrB) sequencing as resembling V. anguillarum and 1 strain resembled Carnobacterium sp. Most of the larvae exposed to these strains died within 10 d of challenge. Serotyping of the strains resembling V. anguillarum gave inconclusive results. This indicates differences in serology compared to the serotypes O1, O2 and O3, associated with disease. Three bacterial strains seemed to have a slower infection rate, indicating a longer incubation period. The remaining 45 strains did not seem to have a negative effect on larval survival, suggesting that these are not primary pathogens. 

KEY WORDS: Screening · Cod larvae · Bath challenge · Opportunistic bacteria · Vibriosis · Vibrio anguillarum

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Cite this article as: Sandlund N, Bergh Ø (2008) Screening and characterisation