Diseases of Aquatic Organisms


Diseases affect all facets of life - at the cell, tissue, organ, individual, population and ecosystem level. Since life originated in an aquatic medium, studies of disease phenomena in the wide array of aquatic taxa contribute significantly to the analysis, comprehension, prevention and treatment of diseases in general, including those of organisms now inhabiting terrestrial environments and of humans. DAO aims to fully cover these important research areas

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Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Koi herpesvirus (KHV) disease is a lethal disease in common carp, an important food fish in Asian countries, the seed of which is used in restocking programs for freshwater fishery management. We inspected apparently healthy seed stock of common carp Cyprinus carpio L. and Siberian crucian carp Carassius auratus for the presence of KHV using PCR-based diagnostic tests as a part of a stock enhancement program from 2009 to 2010 in Korea. Consequently, KHV was detected from 24 of 232 inspections with yearly detection percentages of 5.2% in 2009 and 15.5% in 2010 using PCR primer sets for TK or SphI-5 as recommended by the OIE Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals. Results indicate that the SphI-5 primer set was slightly more sensitive than the TK primer set, as shown by a higher detection rate. To determine the genotype of the KHV strains detected in this study, ORF40-specific PCR amplification was conducted, and the PCR products from 6 samples showed 100% nucleotide sequence identity with a Japanese strain (GenBank accession number AP008984) but not with US (DG657948) and Israeli strains (DG177346). This report conclusively demonstrated the presence of KHV in externally healthy seed of common carp and Siberian crucian carp, indicating a possible risk that subclinically infected seed stock can be released with a potential threat to wild populations.
    Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 11/2014; 112(1):29-36.
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    ABSTRACT: The Czech Republic hosts a surprisingly rich biodiversity of amphibians representing the majority of amphibian species present in all of Central and Eastern Europe. Surveillance data of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) collected during 2008 to 2012 were analysed for basic patterns of prevalence and infection intensity among species, age groups and localities. In addition, an investigation was made into possible data bias due to varying PCR inhibition. Infection prevalence in the genus Pelophylax was significantly higher than in other sampled taxa, while Bombina and Bufo were infected with intermediate prevalence. Individual mortalities putatively caused by chytridiomycosis were detected in Bombina and Bufo, but not in Pelophylax. Differences among localities were seen to modulate the pathogen's infection rate and influence overall individual infection intensities. PCR inhibition occurred significantly more often in samples from the genus Pelophylax than in other tested taxa (Bufo bufo, B. viridis, Bombina bombina, Pelobates fuscus and Rana dalmatina). Although we found no completely inhibited samples within the genus Bombina, the infection loads were lower in the sample set processed without bovine serum albumin, suggesting some level of PCR inhibition. The combination of high Bd prevalence with no apparent deleterious effect and the high dispersal abilities of water frogs predispose them to act as vectors for chytridiomycosis. It is possible that the role of Pelophylax frogs in the spread of Bd is overlooked due to a large proportion of unrecognized false negatives, but this issue needs further confirmation.
    Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 11/2014; 112(1):1-8.
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    ABSTRACT: Herpesviruses form a long continuous DNA molecule, or head-to-tail concatemer, as a replicating intermediate in the host. In this study, we developed a DNA-specific PCR assay for detecting the infection stage of koi herpesvirus (KHV) based on the presence of this 'endless' DNA. The 295 kbp double-stranded DNA KHV genome consists of a 251 kbp unique long region and two 22 kbp direct repeats (DRL and DRR) at each genome terminus. We designed a new primer set (DR primer set) based on the DR region spanning the presumed circular or concatemeric junction. Using the DR primer set, a PCR product was obtained from KHV-infected common carp brain (CCB) cells, but not from the virus-infected cell culture supernatant, implying that the PCR assay could detect intracellular virus in the host. The synthesis of a presumptive circular or concatemeric genome in virus-infected CCB cells was examined in a time-course experiment together with viral mRNA of the terminase gene, copy numbers of the viral genome, and infectious viral titer. The mRNA was first detected in the cells at 6 h post-inoculation (hpi), and the copy number of viral genome in the cells started to increase at 12 hpi. Subsequently, circular or concatemeric DNA was detected in the cells at 18 hpi, and progeny virus was detected in the cell culture supernatant at 24 hpi. These findings suggest that detection of the circular or concatemeric KHV genome with the developed PCR method can be used to determine the stage of KHV infection.
    Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 11/2014; 112(1):37-44.
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    ABSTRACT: Perkinsus mediterraneus, a protozoan parasite that can cause perkinsosis (marine mollusc disease), was first detected in oysters Ostrea edulis from Mahon (Minorca, Balearic Islands, Spain) in 2004. Several years later it was also found in Andratx Harbour (Majorca, Balearic Islands) and in the Gulf of Manfredonia (Adriatic coast of Italy) in oyster populations. Since 2007, Perkinsus surveys have been conducted in different localities and shellfish species in the Balearic Archipelago. In the present work, we found P. mediterraneus in the Balearic Islands infecting oyster and other shellfish species. We describe infection with P. mediterraneus for the first time in Arca noae and Mimachlamys varia. The detection was carried out using Ray's fluid thioglycolate medium (RFTM), histology and polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) methodologies. The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region (including ITS1, 5.8S and ITS2) of P. mediterraneus ribosomal DNA was sequenced from infected bivalve gills (or from the body in Chamelea gallina) from Balearic Archipelago localities. Twelve haplotypes with a strong genetic similarity between them (97-100%) were observed in our samples. These data were completed with 12 more haplotypes from GenBank sequences. The phylogenetic relationship between Balearic P. mediterraneus haplotypes found in this study, those previously obtained in Mahon Harbour, and the Perkinsus spp. sequences available in GenBank clearly grouped the different Perkinsus spp. in distinct clades supported by strong bootstrap values. Moreover, these analyses detected different P. mediterraneus groups in O. edulis from Minorca Island. No abnormal mortalities or decline in populations were detected during the survey, except for C. gallina, which is also affected by Marteilia refringens.
    Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 11/2014; 112(1):69-82.
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    ABSTRACT: Haplosporidium patagon was found parasitizing Siphonaria lessonii and S. lateralis, 2 siphonariid gastropods co-occurring on the littoral rocky shore at Puerto Deseado, Santa Cruz, Argentina. Gastropods from 2 habitats representing 2 different levels of environmental harshness were studied. In both cases, S. lessonii showed a higher prevalence of infection (3.78%) over the entire 14 mo study period than S. lateralis (0.13%). Very different values of prevalence of infection were observed at the different sampling sites: Site 1, the more restrictive habitat (exposed for long periods to desiccation during low tides, higher ultraviolet exposure, and high ranges of temperature variation) showed a higher prevalence value (5.99%) than Site 2 (1.46%). Statistical differences in prevalence were also found between values corresponding to the austral spring (3.35% at Site 1 and 0.74% at Site 2) and winter (13.79% at Site 1 and 2.13% at Site 2). The presence/absence of H. patagon did not vary significantly with gastropod shell length. Infection affected the digestive gland, whose normal histology was greatly modified. The hermaphroditic gonads were also affected; the female germinal cells disappeared or only a few primary or previtellogenic oocytes were present, and vitellogenesis was inhibited. The function of the male germinal epithelium, as well as spermatogenesis and spermiogenesis processes and associated organs (seminal vesicles and seminal receptacles), were not affected. However, the glandular pallial complex of the reproductive systemwas affected, and we observed a significant reduction in development in parasitized gastropods. H. patagon sporocysts also invaded the supporting connective tissues of both the kidney and pseudobranch.
    Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 11/2014; 112(1):59-67.
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    ABSTRACT: Flavobacterial diseases negatively impact wild and cultured fishes worldwide. We recently reported on the presence of a large and diverse group of flavobacteria, many of which were associated with lesions in a number of Great Lakes fish species. Herein, we report on the characterization of 65 fish-associated Flavobacterium spp. isolates using 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis and phylogenetic analyses based upon neighbor-joining and Bayesian methodologies. Thirteen isolates were identified as the newly described fish-associated F. plurextorum, F. spartansii, and F. tructae, while 3 isolates were similar to F. frigidimaris; however, the remaining Flavobacterium spp. isolates did not conclusively match any described Flavobacterium spp. and thus were suspected as comprising novel flavobacterial species. A more comprehensive polyphasic characterization was undertaken on 6 isolates, representing a range of association with disease signs in hatchery-raised or free-ranging fish and genetic distinctness. Polyphasic characterization included physiological, morphological, and biochemical analyses, as well as additional phylogenetic analyses based upon near-complete sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene. Our findings demonstrated that that at least 5 of the 6 isolates are most likely novel species within the genus Flavobacterium that have never before been reported from fish. Pilot experimental challenge studies suggested that some of these Flavobacterium spp. can cause pathological lesions in fish and were re-isolated from the brains, spleens, livers, and kidneys of experimentally infected fish. The findings underscore the growing number and heterogeneity of flavobacteria now known to be capable of infecting fish.
    Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 11/2014; 112(1):45-57.
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    ABSTRACT: The pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has been associated with amphibian declines worldwide but has not been well-studied among Critically Endangered amphibian species in Bolivia. We sampled free-living marbled water frogs Telmatobius marmoratus (Anura: Leptodactylidae) from Isla del Sol, Bolivia, for Bd using skin swabs and quantitative polymerase chain reactions. We detected Bd on 44% of T. marmoratus sampled. This is the first record of Bd in amphibians from waters associated with Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. These results further confirm the presence of Bd in Bolivia and substantiate the potential threat of this pathogen to the Critically Endangered, sympatric Titicaca water frog T. culeus and other Andean amphibians.
    Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 11/2014; 112(1):83-7.
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    ABSTRACT: A significant emergence of trout-adapted MD subgroup infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) began in the coastal region of Washington State, USA, in 2007. This emergence event lasted until 2011 and caused both asymptomatic adult fish infection and symptomatic epidemic disease and mortality in juvenile fish. Incidence of virus during this emergence demonstrated a heterogeneous distribution among rivers of the coastal region, leaving fish populations of some rivers apparently untouched while others suffered significant and recurrent infection and mortality (Breyta et. al. 2013; Dis Aquat Org 104:179-195). In this study, we examined the possible contribution of variations in susceptibility of fish populations, age-related resistance, and virus virulence to the observed landscape heterogeneity. We found that the most significant variable was host susceptibility: by controlled experimental challenge studies steelhead trout populations with no history of IHNV infection were 1 to 3 orders of magnitude more sensitive than a fish population with a long history of IHNV infection. In addition, 2 fish populations from the same river, which descended relatively recently from a common ancestral population, demonstrated 1 to 2 orders of magnitude difference in susceptibility. Fish age-related development of resistance was most evident in the more susceptible of 2 related fish populations. Finally, the strain of virus involved in the 2007 coastal Washington emergence had high virulence but was within the range of other known M group viruses tested. These results suggest that one major driver of landscape heterogeneity in the 2007 coastal Washington IHNV emergence was variation in fish population susceptibility and that this trait may have a heritable component.
    Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 11/2014; 112(1):17-28.
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    ABSTRACT: Amphibians are one of the most imperiled vertebrate groups, with pathogens playing a role in the decline of some species. Rare species are particularly vulnerable to extinction because populations are often isolated and exist at low abundance. The potential impact of pathogens on rare amphibian species has seldom been investigated. The dusky gopher frog Lithobates sevosus is one of the most endangered amphibian species in North America, with 100-200 individuals remaining in the wild. Our goal was to determine whether adult L. sevosus were susceptible to ranavirus, a pathogen responsible for amphibian die-offs worldwide. We tested the relative susceptibility of adult L. sevosus to ranavirus (103 plaque-forming units) isolated from a morbid bullfrog via 3 routes of exposure: intra-coelomic (IC) injection, oral (OR) inoculation, and water bath (WB) exposure. We observed 100% mortality of adult L. sevosus in the IC and WB treatments after 10 and 19 d, respectively. Ninety-five percent mortality occurred in the OR treatment over the 28 d evaluation period. No mortality was observed in the control treatment after 28 d. Our results indicate that L. sevosus is susceptible to ranavirus, and if adults in the wild are exposed to this pathogen, significant mortality could occur. Additionally, our study demonstrates that some adult amphibian species can be very susceptible to ranavirus, which has been often overlooked in North American studies. We recommend that conservation planners consider testing the susceptibility of rare amphibian species to ranavirus and that the adult age class is included in future challenge experiments.
    Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 11/2014; 112(1):9-16.
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    ABSTRACT: Wedge clams Donax trunculus inhabit high-energy environments along sandy coasts of the northeastern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Two sites were sampled monthly, one in Morocco (Mehdia), where the density was normal, and one in France (Biscarosse), where the density was very low. We tested the hypothesis that the difference in density between the sites was related to infection by the trematode parasite Bacciger bacciger. Identity of both the parasite and the host were verified using anatomical and molecular criteria. Parasite prevalence (i.e. the percentage of parasitized clams) was almost 3 times higher at Biscarosse. At this site, overall prevalence reached 32% in July and was correlated with the migration of several individuals (with a prevalence of 88%) to the sediment surface. After this peak, prevalence decreased rapidly, suggesting death of parasitized clams. The deleterious effect of B. bacciger on wedge clams was also supported by our calculations indicating that the weight of the parasite made up to 56% of the total weight of the parasitized clams. However, condition indices of trematode-free clams were also lower in Biscarosse than in Mehdia or other sites, suggesting that other factors such as pollutants or microparasites (Microcytos sp.) may alter wedge clam population fitness in Biscarosse.
    Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 10/2014; 111:259–267.
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    ABSTRACT: Host genetic resistance against disease-causing pathogens can be enhanced through family-based selective breeding. At present, there is an incomplete understanding of how artificial selection of fish alters host physiology and response following pathogen exposure. We previously reported the generation of selectively-bred rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss lines with either increased resistance (ARS-Fp-R) or susceptibility (ARS-Fp-S) to bacterial cold water disease (BCWD). This study (1) determined baseline reference-range intervals for packed cell volume (PCV) and 18 plasma biochemistry analytes, and (2) examined pathophysiological changes following infection between the genetic lines. PCV and biochemistry reference-range intervals did not significantly differ between genetic lines; thus data were pooled into a single reference-range population (n = 85). ARS-Fp-R and ARS-Fp-S line fish were intraperitoneally challenged with Flavobacterium psychrophilum, and plasma was collected on Days 1, 3, 6, and 9 post-challenge. Splenic bacterial load was measured using an F. psychrophilum-specific qPCR assay. In both genetic lines, changes were observed in mean PCV, total protein, albumin, glucose, cholesterol, chloride, and calcium, falling outside the established reference intervals and significantly differing from phosphate-buffered saline challenged fish, on at least 1d post-challenge. Mean PCV, total protein, and calcium significantly differed between ARS-Fp-R and ARS-Fp-S line fish on Day 9 post-infection, with values in the ARS-Fp-S line deviating most from the reference interval. PCV, total protein, cholesterol, and calcium negatively correlated with bacterial load. These findings identify divergent pathophysiological responses between ARS-Fp-R and ARS-Fp-S line fish following laboratory challenge that are likely associated with differential survival.
    Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 10/2014; 111(3):239-48.
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    ABSTRACT: A series of fungal cases in hatchery-reared juvenile and young adult Siberian sturgeon Acipenser baerii and white sturgeon A. transmontanus occurred at production facilities in Florida and California, USA, respectively. Affected fish exhibited abnormal orientation and/or buoyancy, emaciation, coelomic distension, exophthalmos, cutaneous erythema, and ulcerative skin and eye lesions. Necropsies revealed haemorrhage throughout the coelom, serosanguinous coelomic effusion and organomegaly with nodular or cystic lesions in multiple organs. Fungal hyphae were observed in 27 fish (24 A. baerii and 3 A. transmontanus) via microscopic examination of tissue wet mounts and on slides prepared from colonies grown on culture media. Histopathological examination of these infected tissues revealed extensive infiltration by melanised fungal hyphae that were recovered in culture. Phenotypic characteristics and sequencing of the fungal isolates with the use of the internal transcribed spacer region and 28S rRNA gene confirmed the aetiological agent as Veronaea botryosa. To our knowledge, this is the first documentation of V. botryosa infection in fish, although melanised fungi of the closely related genus Exophiala are well-known pathogens of freshwater and marine fishes.
    Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 10/2014; 111(3):229-38.
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    ABSTRACT: Cyprinid herpesvirus 3 is an important pathogen and the causative agent of koi herpesvirus disease, which has been associated with mass mortalities in koi and common carp Cyprinus carpio. Currently, the only available commercial vaccine is an attenuated version of the virus. This has led to concerns about its risk to reversion to virulence. Furthermore, the vaccine is currently only available in Israel and the United States. In order to investigate the antigenic profile of the virus, western blot was performed using infected cell culture supernatant and sera from carp that had survived exposure to the virus. Only one antigen could be detected, and mass spectrometry analysis identified the corresponding protein as ORF 12, a putative secreted tumour necrosis factor receptor homologue. In other herpesviruses, such proteins have been associated with the viral infectious process in a number of ways, including the entry into the host cell and the inhibition of apoptosis in infected cells. The reason why only one antigen could be detected during this study is unknown.
    Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 10/2014; 111(3):269-73.
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    ABSTRACT: Fibropapillomatosis (FP) is a benign neoplasia that affects physiological functions of sea turtles and may lead to death. High prevalence of FP in sea turtle populations has prompted several research groups to study the disease and the associated herpesvirus, chelonid herpesvirus 5 (ChHV5). The present study detected and quantified ChHV5 in 153 fibropapilloma samples collected from green turtles Chelonia mydas on the Brazilian coast between 2009 and 2010 to characterize the relationship between viral load and tumor characteristics. Of the tumor samples collected, 73 and 87% were positive for ChHV5 in conventional PCR and real-time PCR, respectively, and viral loads ranged between 1 and 118.62 copies cell-1. Thirty-three percent of turtles were mildly, 28% were moderately and 39% were severely affected with FP. Skin samples were used as negative control. High viral loads correlated positively with increasing FP severity in turtles sampled on the Brazilian coast and with samples from turtles found dead in the states of São Paulo and Bahia. Six viral variants were detected in tumor samples, 4 of which were similar to the Atlantic phylogenetic group. Two variants were similar to the western Atlantic/eastern Caribbean phylogenetic group. Co-infection in turtles with more than one variant was observed in the states of São Paulo and Bahia.
    Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 10/2014; 111(3):207-17.
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    ABSTRACT: The white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) genome contains 3 variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) regions, located in open reading frame (ORF) 75, ORF94 and ORF125, which have been employed for molecular epizootiological studies. A previous report suggested that the ORF 94 VNTR is highly unstable, varying in the number of tandem repeats during single passages from shrimp to other crustaceans. As such rapid variations would have profound implications for the interpretation of molecular epizootiological data, we re-examined the stability of the ORF94 VNTR. Two WSSV isolates with different ORF94 VNTR genotypes (TRS5 and TRS7) were obtained from disease outbreaks in farmed black tiger shrimp Penaeus monodon in Indonesia. High titre stocks of each virus were produced by injection in specific pathogen-free (SPF) Pacific white shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei with filtered infected tissue extracts, and the genotypes were confirmed. Each stock (macerated tissue) was then used to feed SPF Pacific white shrimp, freshwater crayfish (Cherax sp.) and freshwater prawns Macrobrachium rosenbergii through 3 successive passages involving alternative hosts at each level. Taqman real-time PCR was conducted on samples from each group to confirm infection and quantify viral genetic loads. ORF94 VNTR genotype analysis conducted on samples from each of the 43 passage groups indicated no variations in the VNTR number in either genotype TRS5 or genotype TRS7. This finding is contrary to the previous report and suggests that ORF94 VNTR are stable during multiple passages in these crustaceans.
    Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 10/2014; 111(3):249-57.
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    ABSTRACT: The health benefits of probiotics are thought to occur, at least in part, through an improved intestinal microbial balance in fish, although the molecular mechanisms whereby probiotics modulate the intestinal microbiota by means of activation of mucosal immunity are rarely explored. In this study, the effects of viable and heat-inactivated probiotic Bacillus pumilus SE5 on the intestinal dominant microbial community and mucosal immune gene expression were evaluated. The fish were fed for 60 d with 3 different diets: control (without probiotic), and diets T1 and T2 supplemented with 1.0 × 108 cells g-1 viable and heat-inactivated B. pumilus SE5, respectively. Upregulated expression of TLR1, TLR2 and IL-8, but not MyD88 was observed in fish fed the viable probiotic, while elevated expression of TLR2, IL-8 and TGF-β1, but not MyD88 was observed in fish fed the heat-inactivated B. pumilus SE5. The induced activation of intestinal mucosal immunity, especially the enhanced expression of antibacterial epinecidin-1, was consistent with the microbial data showing that several potentially pathogenic bacterial species such as Psychroserpens burtonensis and Pantoea agglomerans were suppressed by both the viable and heat-inactivated probiotic B. pumilus SE5. These results lay the foundation for future studies on the molecular interactions between probiotics, intestinal microbiota and mucosal immunity in fish.
    Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 09/2014; 111(2):119-27.