Oomycete infections caused by Aphanomyces invadans occur in freshwater and estuarine fishes around the world. Along the east coast of the USA, skin ulcers caused by A. invadans are prevalent in Atlantic menhaden, Brevoortia tyrannus. From laboratory observations low salinities appear crucial to transmission of the pathogen. To better understand aspects of transmission, we characterized sporulation and cyst formation of secondary zoospores of two isolates of A. invadans at different salinities and temperatures. Sporulation occurred only at low salinities. At room temperature (ca. 20-22 C), using "pond water" augmented with artificial sea salts, the endemic strain WIC and the Thailand strain PA7 of A. invadans produced free-swimming secondary zoospores at salinities of 0, 1 and 2 psu (practical salinity unit = ‰), but not at 4 psu or higher. Secondary zoospores of another species, ATCC-62427 (Aphanomyces sp.), were observed at 1, 2, 4 and 8 psu but not at 0 and 12 psu. Secondary zoospores of all three isolates, especially WIC, were abundant and motile 1-2 d post-sporulation. Sporulation was temperature dependent and occurred over a relatively narrow range. No sporulation occurred at 4, 30 or 35 C for either WIC or PA7. For both strains zoospore production within 1-3 d after the initiation of sporulation was more prolific at 25 C than at 20 and 15 C. At 15 C production of zoospores was sustained over 11 d for WIC and 5 d for PA7. At room temperature single WIC secondary zoospores remained motile 12-18 h. Salinities exceeding 4 psu or vigorous shaking caused immediate cyst formation of WIC secondary zoospores. Exposure to menhaden tissue, but not tissues of other fishes to secondary zoospores (WIC), caused rapid (2 h) cyst formation. Cysts were capable of excysting when transferred to 1 psu water within 2-3 h of cyst formation. Cysts that had remained encysted in 6.5 psu for 24 h did not excyst when transferred to 1 psu water. Salinity and temperature requirements for sporulation indicate that juvenile menhaden must acquire infections during rain or in low salinity oligohaline waters.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology