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  • 1 Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungária krt. 21, H-1143 Budapest, Hungary
  • # Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary
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Here, we experimentally studied the site preference of Myxobolus cerebralis, one of the most pathogenic myxozoan (Cnidaria, Myxozoa) fish parasites, which causes whirling disease in salmonids. Parasite invasion was examined in three fish species with various susceptibility levels: the type host brown trout, the highly susceptible rainbow trout, and the non-susceptible gibel carp, in which parasite spores do not develop. We investigated the first two hours of fish invasion, and measured the site preference of triactinomyxons (TAMs) during attachment and penetration of fish in three body parts (gills, fins, skin). Infection prevalence and intensity were estimated using a species-specific nested PCR, optimised in the present study. The highest infection prevalence was detected in the most susceptible fish species, rainbow trout. Interestingly, higher prevalence was observed in gibel carp than in the type host, brown trout (95.2% vs. 85.7%). Considering body locations, remarkable differences were detected in infection intensities. The highest intensity was observed in fins, whereas skin was the least infected body part in every fish species examined. Infection prevalence and intensity did not differ significantly among fish species. Thus, we confirmed that M. cerebralis TAMs cannot discern fish species. Furthermore, we proved experimentally that fish fin is significantly more attractive to fish-invading parasite TAMs than gills or skin.

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