Prevalence and susceptibility of infection to Myxobolus cerebralis, and genetic differences among populations of Tubifex tubifex

Katherine A. Beauchamp, Melanie Gay, Garry O. Kelley, Mansour El-Matbouli, R. Deedee Kathman, R. Barry Nehring, Ronald Hedrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


The prevalence of infection and susceptibility of the aquatic oligochaete Tubifex tubifex to Myxobolus cerebralis, was examined in 2 studies on the upper Colorado River, Colorado, USA, where whirling disease occurs in wild trout populations. In the first study, the prevalence of infection ranged from 0.4 to 1.5%, as determined by counting the number of T. tubifex releasing triactinomyxons of M. cerebralis directly following their collection from the field. The susceptibility of those T. tubifex not releasing triactinomyxons was assessed by the number of these oligochaetes releasing triactinomyxons 3 mo following experimental exposures to spores of M. cerebralis. The prevalence of infection following experimental exposures of these T. tubifex ranged from 4.2 to 14.1%. In a second study, all T. tubifex collected at 2 different times directly from the 2 field sites in Colorado were exposed to spores of M. cerebralis. Individual oligochaetes representing those groups of T. tubifex releasing and those groups not releasing triactinomyxons at 3 mo were screened with molecular genetic markers. T. tubifex populations found at the 2 study sites consisted of 4 genetically distinct lineages that varied with respect to their susceptibility to experimental exposure to M. cerebralis. Lineages I and III contained the most oligochaetes susceptible to M. cerebralis and were the most prominent lineages at Windy Gap Reservoir, a site of high infectivity for wild rainbow trout on the upper Colorado River. In contrast, at the Breeze Bridge site which is below Windy Gap Reservoir and where M. cerebralis infections are less severe in wild trout, oligochaetes in lineages V and VI that are resistant to M. cerebralis were more prominent. These results suggest that certain habitats, such as Windy Gap Reservoir, are conducive to large and more homogenous populations of susceptible T. tubifex lineages that may serve as point sources of infection for M. cerebralis. Although not a direct objective of this study, there was no evidence of M. cerebralis infections among any oligochaetes other than those that would be classified as T. tubifex by standard morphological characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-121
Number of pages9
JournalDiseases of Aquatic Organisms
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 29 2002


  • Myxobolus cerebralis
  • Tubifex tubifex
  • Whirling disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Prevalence and susceptibility of infection to Myxobolus cerebralis, and genetic differences among populations of Tubifex tubifex'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this