In vitro explant cultures identified Ichthyophonus in 10.9% of 302 Puget Sound rockfish Sebastes emphaeus sampled from five sites in the San Juan Islands archipelago and Puget Sound, Washington, in 2003. None of the infected fish exhibited visible lesions and only a single fish was histologically positive. Significantly more females were infected (12.4%) than males (6.8%), and while infected males were only detected at two of the five sites, infected females were identified at all sites, with no significant differences in infection prevalence. Genomic sequences of Ichthyophonus isolates obtained from Puget Sound rockfish, Pacific herring Clupea pallasii, and Yukon River Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha were identical in both the A and B regions of the small subunit 18S ribosomal DNA but were different from Ichthyophonus sequences previously isolated from four different species of rockfish from the northeastern Pacific Ocean. Ichthyophonus in Puget Sound rockfish may not have been previously detected because the infection is subclinical in this species and earlier investigators did not utilize in vitro techniques for diagnosis of ichthyophoniasis. However, since clinical ichthyophoniasis has recently been identified in several other species of northeast Pacific rockfishes, it is hypothesized that this either is an emerging disease resulting from changing marine conditions or the result of introduction by infected southern species that appear during periodic El Nin??o events. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2005.
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Ichthyophonus in Puget Sound rockfish from the San Juan Islands archipelago and Puget Sound, Washington, USA