By sampling individual rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, at a fish farm we showed that Argulus coregoni were aggregated within their host population. The relative significance of susceptibility and exposure generating the observed pattern was tested using experimental infections. We examined, whether rainbow trout developed protective resistance mechanisms against the louse following a challenge infection and if there was variation between individual trout in their susceptibility to A. coregoni metanauplii. Fish were exposed to 20 A. coregoni for 5, 25, 50, 85 or 120 min and the numbers attaching recorded. Three weeks later, developing argulids were removed and the experiment repeated with a standardized exposure of 20 metanauplii. Prior exposure of fish with A. coregoni did not reduce the total infection intensity compared to naïve fish, but fish gained infection more rapidly. We suggest that there is no protective acquired resistance of pre-exposed rainbow trout to subsequent Argulus exposure. The possibility that an immunosuppressive mechanism by argulids was acting enabling the higher attachment rate could be refuted since control individuals, not previously exposed to lice, gained the infection at a similar rate as the fish challenged twice. Our results do not indicate clear differences in susceptibility among individual fish but the transmission of metanauplii on fish seemed to be opportunistic and non-selective. Our results support the view that variation in exposure time, rather than differences in susceptibility of individual hosts, might be the key factor in generating the aggregated distribution of Argulus on their hosts.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Infectious Diseases