In 1991, the poor physical condition of largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides from Lake Harris, Florida, was associated with the decline of the lake's fishery. The swim bladders of emaciated bass had mild inflammation and ecchymotic hemorrhages. A mycoplasma-like organism isolated from swim bladders was initially believed to be the causative agent. The organism was later identified as Acholeplasma laidlawii by using a fluorescent antibody procedure and was demonstrated to be nonpathogenic. Parenteral injection of the organism into healthy largemouth bass fingerlings produced no signs of disease or difference in growth rate compared with control fish during a 16-month period. Field studies resulted in isolation of A. laidlawii from black crappies Pomoxis nigromaculatus, bluegills Lepomis macrochirus, and redear sunfish L. microlophus, but not from noncentrarchids in Lake Harris or from any fish species in a control fishery (Lake Holly, Florida). The absence of organisms in all emaciated bass, our inability to reproduce the disease, and isolation of the organism from seemingly healthy fish suggest this organism was not pathogenic.
Additional publication details
Isolation of Acholeplasma laidlawii from centrarchids in a Central Florida Lake