Tubifex tubifex are obligate invertebrate hosts in the life cycle of Myxobolus cerebralis, the myxozoan parasite that causes whirling disease in salmonid fishes. This exotic parasite is established to varying degrees across Oregon's Columbia River system (Pacific Northwest, USA) and characteristics of local T. tubifex populations likely play a role in the pattern of disease occurrence. To better understand these patterns, we collected T. tubifex from three Oregon river basins (Willamette, Deschutes, and Grande Ronde), determined their genotype (mitochondrial 16S rDNA lineage and RAPD genotype) and exposed 10 different populations to M. cerebralis in the laboratory. Four mt lineages were identified: I, III, V and VI. Lineage III was found in all river basins but dominated both central and eastern sites. The RAPD assay further divided these lineages into geographic sub-populations; no RAPD genotype was common to all basins. There was a significant difference in prevalence of infection and level of parasite production among the populations we exposed to M. cerebralis that was attributed to genotypic composition. Only lineage III worms released actinospores and only populations dominated by this lineage amplified the parasite. These populations had the lowest survival, however, the lineage dominant before exposure remained dominant despite the high prevalence of infection. The distribution and infection dynamics of susceptible T. tubifex throughout Oregon may contribute to the differences in M. cerebralis occurrence; our studies further support the influence of oligochaete genotypes on the manifestation of whirling disease in salmonid populations. ?? 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Propagation of the myxozoan parasite Myxobolus cerebralis by different geographic and genetic populations of Tubifex tubifex: An Oregon perspective