Marine Scotland

New paper on amoeba studies published

November 27, 2017 by No Comments

NC3r logoA new scientific journal article written by researchers at Marine Scotland Science (MSS), in collaboration with the Scottish Fish Immunology Research Centre (SFIRC) at the University of Aberdeen, has been published in the Journal of Fish Diseases.

The principal author, Rachel Chance, is a PhD. student funded by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3R’s).

The paper, entitled “Effect of repeated exposure to AQUI-S® on the viability and growth of Neoparamoeba perurans”, focuses on the effect of fish anaesthetics on the amoeba species Neoparamoeba perurans.

Neoparamoeba perurans is an amoeboid ectoparasite, naturally occurring in the marine environment, which is responsible for amoebic gill disease (AGD) in salmon and other fish species. During AGD infection, these microscopic amoebae attach to the sensitive gill tissue, causing excess mucus production, inflammation and damage to the fragile gill filaments and lamellae. Arising in the mid 1980’s in Tasmanian salmonid aquaculture, AGD is now a major issue for European aquaculture, impacting in particular upon farmed Atlantic salmon.

The aim of the paper was to find out if repeated exposure to different fish anaesthetics had any impact on the growth and viability of N. perurans. Researchers at SFIRC and MSS are interested in this question as they wish to develop an improved experimental model to better understand the disease process and how the fish respond to AGD. This could lead to better treatments. The improved model consists of repeated non-invasive sampling (such as light gill sampling with cotton swabs) of individual infected fish. Material obtained from the swabs can be used to look at immune and other responses, and number of parasites. It is hoped that because the disease can be followed over time in the same fish, that the data will be less variable, more informative, and less fish will be needed. These analyses are still ongoing but a first step in achieving this goal was to see if repeated anaesthesia, used to reduce any stress experienced by the fish during sampling, would affect the amoebae and change artificially the disease outcome. The published paper describes how AQUI-S®, an anaesthetic which closely resembles clove oil, had no impact upon both the viability nor growth of colonies of the N. perurans amoebae grown in vitro in the laboratory. This outcome allowed the non-invasive sampling approach to be tested in vivo with infected fish.

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