During experiments in our laboratory to assess the progression and severity of gas bubble trauma (GBT) in juvenile spring chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, we had the opportunity to assess the influence of Renibacterium salmoninarum (Rs), the causative agent of bacterial kidney disease, on the susceptibility of salmon to GBT. We exposed fish with an established infection of Rs to 120% total dissolved gas (TDG) for 96 h and monitored severity of GBT signs in the fins and gills, Rs infection level in kidneys by using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and mortality. Mortality occurred rapidly after exposure to 120% TDG, with a LT20 (time necessary to kill 20% of the population) of about 37 h, which is at a minimum about 16% earlier than other bioassays we have conducted using fish that had no apparent signs of disease. Fish that died early (from 31 to 36 h and from 49 to 52 h) had significantly higher infection levels (mean ?? SE ELISA absorbance = 1.532 ?? 0.108) than fish that survived for 96h (mean ?? SE ELISA absorbance = 0.828 ?? 0.137). Fish that died early also had a significantly greater number of gill filaments occluded with bubbles than those that survived 96 h. Conversely, fish that survived for 96 h had a significantly higher median fin severity ranking than those that died early. Our results indicate that fish with moderate to high levels of Rs infection are more vulnerable to the effects of dissolved gas supersaturation (DGS) and die sooner than fish with lower levels of Rs infection. However, there is a substantial amount of individual variation in susceptibility to the apparent cumulative effects of DGS and Rs infection. Collectively, our findings have important implications to programs designed to monitor the prevalence and severity of GBT in juvenile salmonids in areas like the Columbia River basin and perhaps elsewhere.
Additional publication details
Influence of infection with Renibacterium salmoninarum on susceptibility of juvenile spring chinook salmon to gas bubble trauma