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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 136:133-146 (2019)  -  DOI:

Health assessment of the cleaner fish ballan wrasse Labrus bergylta from the British south-west coast

Jamie McMurtrie, David W. Verner-Jeffreys, Tamsin Cochrane-Dyet, Pete White, Ronny van Aerle, David Ryder, David Stone, Matthew Green, Stephen W. Feist, Irene Cano*

Cefas Weymouth Laboratory, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Weymouth DT4 8UB, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Wild-caught ballan wrasse Labrus bergylta are translocated en masse from the British south-west coast to Scotland for use as cleaner fish to tackle Atlantic salmon Salmo salar sea lice infestations; however, very little is known about the background health status of this species. This is the first health assessment of wild ballan wrasse from the British south-west. Wild-caught ballan wrasse (n = 75) from coastal populations of Dorset and Cornwall were subjected to a full health screen for viral, bacterial and parasitic infections and associated pathology. A range of metazoan and protozoan parasites were observed in histological sections, including copepods (sea lice Caligus centrodonti), nematodes, cestodes, digenean metacercariae, Cryptocaryon-like ciliates and an intestinal coccidian (Eimeria sp.) observed in 26.6% of the samples. The mycoplasma Acholeplasma laidlawii was associated with cytopathic effect in cell culture inoculated with tissue homogenates. The opportunistic pathogen Photobacterium damselae damselae was isolated from a single fish with a systemic infection. The isolate was confirmed to possess the virulence factors hlyAch and plpV, previously associated with cell toxicity and pathogenicity to fish. There are no immediate concerns for the continued mass translation of ballan wrasse, however careful monitoring of the population is recommended.

KEY WORDS: Ballan wrasse · Photobacterium damselae damselae · Cleaner fish · Eimeria · Coccidian · Caligus centrodonti · Salmon aquaculture

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Cite this article as: McMurtrie J, Verner-Jeffreys DW, Cochrane-Dyet T, White P and others (2019) Health assessment of the cleaner fish ballan wrasse Labrus bergylta from the British south-west coast. Dis Aquat Org 136:133-146.

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