DAO 89:39-49 (2010)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02171

Identification of ‘Candidatus Piscichlamydia salmonis’ in Arctic charr Salvelinus alpinus during a survey of charr production facilities in North America

Andrew Draghi II1, Julie Bebak2,7,*, Stephen Daniels3, Edan R. Tulman1,4, Steven J. Geary1,4, A. Brian West1,5, Vsevolod L. Popov6, Salvatore Frasca Jr.1,4

1Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science, 3Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, and
4Center of Excellence for Vaccine Research, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut 06269, USA
2The Conservation Fund’s Freshwater Institute, 1098 Turner Rd., Shepherdstown, West Virginia 25443, USA
5Department of Pathology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA
6Electron Microscopy Laboratory, Department of Pathology, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas 77555-0609, USA
7Present address: Aquatic Animal Health Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, US Department of Agriculture, 990 Wire Road, Auburn, Alabama 36832, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Arctic charr Salvelinus alpinus production facilities, nonproduction water sources and effluents in the United States and Canada were sampled to determine if chlamydiae associated with epitheliocystis were present in water and were associated with inclusions of epitheliocystis in gill tissue. Gills from 607 fish from 13 sites were processed for histopathologic examination and DNA extraction. Water was collected from 21 locations for DNA testing. Eighteen fish from one location had inclusions of epitheliocystis with proliferative and inflammatory gill lesions. Inclusions were stained using the Gimenez technique and, at the ultrastructural level, consisted of intracytoplasmic membrane-bound vacuoles containing reticulate and intermediate bodies in a fibrillar matrix. PCR using Order Chlamydiales-specific primers performed on DNA extracts from 12 of 13 infected fish yielded amplicons that were identical to (GQ302988) or differed at one base from (GQ302987) the 16S ribosomal RNA gene signature sequence of ‘Candidatus Piscichlamydia salmonis’, which is the chlamydia that was previously identified in epitheliocystis inclusions of farmed Atlantic salmon. In situ hybridization using a ~1.5 kb riboprobe corresponding to the ‘Candidatus Piscichlamydia salmonis’ 16S rRNA genetic sequence (AY462244) confirmed its presence within Arctic charr gill inclusions. DNA isolated from water samples was tested by Chlamydiales-specific PCR and yielded 54 partial 16S rRNA genetic sequences spanning the signature region; however, no 16S rRNA genetic sequences associated with epitheliocystis were identified. This is the first report of ‘Candidatus Piscichlamydia salmonis’ associated with epitheliocystis in Arctic charr, the first identification of ‘Candidatus Piscichlamydia salmonis’ from a freshwater production location, and the first reported occurrence in North America.


KEY WORDS: Arctic charr · Epitheliocystis · ‘Candidatus Piscichlamydia salmonis’ · Chlamydia · Water supply · Survey · Environment


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Cite this article as: Draghi A II, Bebak J, Daniels S, Tulman ER and others (2010) Identification of ‘Candidatus Piscichlamydia salmonis’ in Arctic charr Salvelinus alpinus during a survey of charr production facilities in North America. Dis Aquat Org 89:39-49. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02171

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