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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 62:93-96 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/dao062093

SSU rRNA gene sequence reveals two genotypes of Spironucleus barkhanus (Diplomonadida) from farmed and wild Arctic charr Salvelinus alpinus

Anders Jørgensen*, Erik Sterud

National Veterinary Institute, PO Box 8156 Dep., 0033 Oslo, Norway

ABSTRACT: Spironucleus barkhanus isolated from the blood of Arctic charr Salvelinus alpinus from a marine fish farm were genetically compared with S. barkhanus isolated from the gall bladder of wild Arctic charr. The wild Arctic charr were caught in the lake used as the water source for the hatchery from which the farmed fish originated. Sequencing of the small subunit ribosomal RNA gene (SSU rDNA) from these 2 populations showed that the isolates obtained from farmed and wild Arctic charr were only 92.7% similar. Based on the sequence differences between these isolates, it is concluded that the parasites isolated from the farmed fish have not been transmitted from wild Arctic charr in the hatchery’s fresh water source. It is therefore most likely that the farmed fish were infected by S. barkhanus after they were transferred to seawater. S. barkhanus isolated from diseased farmed Arctic charr were 99.7% similar to the isolates obtained from diseased farmed Chinook (Canada) and Atlantic salmon (Norway). The high degree of sequence similarity between S. barkhanus from farmed Arctic charr, Chinook and Atlantic salmon indicates that systemic spironucleosis may be caused by specific strains/variants of this parasite. The genetic differences between the isolates of farmed and wild fish are of such magnitude that their conspecificity should be questioned.

KEY WORDS: Spironucleus · Salmonids · SSU rDNA

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