Effect of water temperature on the development, release and survival of the triactinomyxon stage of Myxobolus cerebralis in its oligochaete host

M. El-Matbouli, T. S. McDowell, Dolores Baxa, K. B. Andree, Ronald Hedrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


The development of the triactinomyxon stage of Myxobolus cerebralis and release of mature spores from Tubifex tubifex were shown to be temperature dependent. In the present work, the effect of temperature over a range of 5-30°C on the development and release of the triactinomyxon stages of M. cerebralis was studied. Infected T. tubifex stopped releasing triactinomyxon spores 4days after transfer from 15°C to 25°C or 30°C. Transmission electron microscopic examinations of the tubificids held at 25°C and 30°C for 3days showed that all developmental stages degenerated and transformed to electron-dense clusters between the gut epithelial cells of T. tubifex. In contrast, tubificid worms held at 5°C and 10°C examined at the same time were heavily infected with many early developmental stages of triactinomyxon. At 15°C, the optimal temperature for development, maturing and mature stages of the parasite were evident. Infected T. tubifex transferred from 15°C to 20°C stopped producing triactinomyxon spores after 15days. However, 15days at 20°C was not sufficient to destroy all developmental stages of the parasite. When the tubificid worms were returned to 15°C, the one-cell stages and the binucleate-cell stages resumed normal growth. It was also demonstrated that T. tubifex cured of infection by holding at 30°C for 3weeks and shifted to 15°C could be re-infected with M. cerebralis spores. The waterborne triactinomyxon spores of M. cerebralis did not appear to be as short-lived as previously reported. More than 60% of experimentally produced waterborne triactinomyxon spores survived and maintained their infectivity for rainbow trout for 15days at water temperatures up to 15°C. In natural aquatic systems, the triactinomyxon spores may survive and keep their infectivity for periods even longer than 15days. Copyright (C) 1999 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)627-641
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 1999


  • Myxobolus cerebralis
  • Myxozoa
  • Oligochaete
  • Temperature
  • Tubifex tubifex
  • Whirling disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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