Susceptibility of two strains of rainbow trout (one with suspected resistance to whirling disease) to Myxobolus cerebralis infection

Ronald Hedrick, Terry S. McDowell, Gary D. Marty, Geoffrey T. Fosgate, Kaveramma Mukkatira, Karin Myklebust, Mansour El-Matbouli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The susceptibility of 2 strains of rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss, 1 from North America (TL) and 1 from Germany (GR), to Myxobolus cerebralis (the cause of salmonid whirling disease) was assessed following exposure to the infectious stages (triactinomyxons). Two laboratory experiments were conducted with age-matched rainbow trout of each strain. At the beginning of the study, the 2 trout strains were aged ca. 570 degree-days in Expt 1, and ca, 999 degree-days in Expt 2. In both experiments, replicate groups of each trout strain were exposed to 10, 100, 1000 or 10 000 triactinomyxons (TAMs) fish-1 for 2 h. The fish were then held in aquaria receiving 15°C well-water. Severity of infection was evaluated 5 mo after exposure by presence of clinical signs (whirling and/or black tail), prevalence of infection, severity of microscopic lesions, and spore counts. Clinical signs of whirling disease were evident only in the younger fish exposed in Expt 1: These occurred first among TL rainbow trout at the highest dose at 6 to 7 wk post exposure and then 2 wk later in fish at the 1000 TAMs dose. Black tail was also observed among GR rainbow trout at the 10 000 TAMs dose only, but m fewer fish. The prevalence of infection, spore numbers, and severity of microscopic lesions due to M. cerebralis among GR rainbow trout were less at all doses compared to TL rainbow trout. Risk of infection analyses showed that TL rainbow trout were more prone to infection at the lower doses than GR trout. Mean spore counts were consistently (10- to 100-fold) less in GR than TL trout at doses of 1000 TAMs or lower. Microscopic lesions increased with increasing dose in both strains of rainbow trout. The mechanisms underlying the greater resistance of the GR strain to M. cerebralis infections are unknown, but are under investigation as part of a long-term project to determine the basis for resistance and susceptibility of salmonid fishes to whirling disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-44
Number of pages8
JournalDiseases of Aquatic Organisms
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 20 2003


  • Disease resistance
  • Myxobolus cerebralis
  • Rainbow trout
  • Whirling disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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