Induction of skin ulcers in Atlantic menhaden by injection and aqueous exposure to the zoospores of Aphanomyces invadans

Yasunari Kiryu, Jeffrey D. Shields, Wolfgang K. Vogelbein, David E. Zwerner, Howard Kator, Vicki S. Blazer

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The infectivity and role of Aphanomyces invadans in the etiology of skin ulcers in Atlantic menhaden Brevoortia tyrannus were investigated with two laboratory challenges. In the first experiment, Atlantic menhaden received subcutaneous injections with secondary zoospores from one of three cultures of Aphanomyces: WIC (an endemic isolate of A. invadans in Atlantic menhaden from the Wicomico River, Maryland), PA7 (an isolate of A. invadans from striped snakehead Channa striata (also known as chevron snakehead), infected with epizootic ulcerative syndrome from Thailand), and ATCC-62427 (an isolate from Atlantic menhaden from North Carolina). Fish were injected with 1.9 × 102 (WIC-low), 1.9 × 103 (WlC-high), 5.2 × 102 (PA7), or 6.0 × 102 (ATCC-62427) zoospores and held in static water at 23.5°C (6‰ salinity) for 21 d. Both low and high doses of WIC caused incipient, granulomatous lesions after 5 d. Fish injected with the high-dose WIC died within 7 d. All fish injected with the low-dose WIC were dead after 10 d. Fish injected with zoospores of PA7 developed lesions after 9 d. Fish injected with the ATCC-62427 isolate or those that received subcutaneous injections of sterile water (controls) did not develop lesions. In the second experiment, fish were bath-exposed with zoospores of the WIC isolate after various trauma-inducing treatments. These treatments consisted of handling fish with a net (net stress, exposed for 2 h to either 70 or 700 zoospores/mL), physically removing a few scales (trauma, exposed for 1 h to 700 zoospores/mL), or acclimating fish with less handling (acclimated, untraumatized, exposed for 5.5 h to 110 zoospores/mL). Unexposed fish served as controls. Mortality ranged from 94% to 100% for net-handled and traumatized fish, with the prevalence of ulcerous lesions ranging from 70% to 79% in net-handled fish. However, mortality was 24% for the "untraumatized" fish and the prevalence of lesions was 32%. Fish injected with or exposed to bath challenges of zoospores developed lesions that were grossly and histologically identical to those observed in naturally infected Atlantic menhaden from several estuaries and rivers along the mid-Atlantic coast of the USA. The deeply penetrating ulcers were characterized by dermatitis, myofibrillar degeneration, and deep, necrotizing granulomatous myositis. Experimentally induced lesions, however, exhibited invasiveness, often involving the kidney. Injected or bath-exposed fish developed incipient granulomas after 5 d, which progressed to overt lesions over 7-9 d. We have here demonstrated that ulcerative skin lesions can be experimentally induced in Atlantic menhaden after exposure to oomycete zoospores of an endemic strain of A. invadans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-24
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Aquatic Animal Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aquatic Science


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