Validation of environmental DNA sampling for determination of Ceratonova shasta (Cnidaria: Myxozoa) distribution in Plumas National Forest, CA

Christine A. Richey, Kirsten V. Kenelty, Kristina Van Stone Hopkins, Brittany N. Stevens, Beatriz Martínez-López, Sascha L. Hallett, Stephen D. Atkinson, Jerri L. Bartholomew, Esteban Soto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Ceratonova shasta is the etiological agent of myxozoan-associated enteronecrosis in North American salmonids. The parasite’s life cycle involves waterborne spores and requires both a salmonid fish and a freshwater fabriciid annelid. The success and survival of annelids can be enhanced by flow moderation by dams, and through the erosion of fine sediments into stream channels following wildfires. In this study, the presence of C. shasta environmental/ex-host DNA (eDNA) in river water and substrate samples collected from areas affected by recent fire activity in California, USA, was investigated. Additionally, DNA loads in the environment were compared to C. shasta infection in sentinel-exposed rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Significant associations between C. shasta detection in environmental samples and location within a wildfire perimeter (p = 0.002), between C. shasta detection in sentinel fish and exposure location within a wildfire perimeter (p = 0.015), and between C. shasta detection in fish and locations where water temperature was above the median (p < 0.001) were observed. Additionally, a higher prevalence of C. shasta infection in fish was detected where C. shasta was also detected in environmental samples (p < 0.001). Results suggest that pathogen eDNA sampling can be used as a non-invasive, rapid, specific, and sensitive method for establishing risk of C. shasta infection in wild populations. Knowledge of the complete life cycle of the target parasite, including ecology of each host, can inform the choice of eDNA sampling strategy. Environmental DNA sampling also revealed a novel species of Ceratonova, not yet observed in a host.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalParasitology Research
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020



  • California
  • Ceratonova shasta
  • eDNA
  • Myxozoa
  • Plumas National Forest
  • Salmonids
  • Wildfires

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary(all)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases

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