Life cycle complexity, environmental change and the emerging status of salmonid proliferative kidney disease

Okamura, Beth; Hartikainen, Hanna; Schmidt-Posthaus, Heike; Wahli, Thomas (2011). Life cycle complexity, environmental change and the emerging status of salmonid proliferative kidney disease. Freshwater biology, 56(4), pp. 735-753. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications 10.1111/j.1365-2427.2010.02465.x

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P>1. Proliferative kidney disease (PKD) is a disease of salmonid fish caused by the endoparasitic myxozoan, Tetracapsuloides bryosalmonae, which uses freshwater bryozoans as primary hosts. Clinical PKD is characterised by a temperature-dependent proliferative and inflammatory response to parasite stages in the kidney.;2. Evidence that PKD is an emerging disease includes outbreaks in new regions, declines in Swiss brown trout populations and the adoption of expensive practices by fish farms to reduce heavy losses. Disease-related mortality in wild fish populations is almost certainly underestimated because of e.g. oversight, scavenging by wild animals, misdiagnosis and fish stocking.;3. PKD prevalences are spatially and temporally variable, range from 0 to 90-100% and are typically highest in juvenile fish.;4. Laboratory and field studies demonstrate that (i) increasing temperatures enhance disease prevalence, severity and distribution and PKD-related mortality; (ii) eutrophication may promote outbreaks. Both bryozoans and T. bryosalmonae stages in bryozoans undergo temperature- and nutrient-driven proliferation.;5. Tetracapsuloides bryosalmonae is likely to achieve persistent infection of highly clonal bryozoan hosts through vertical transmission, low virulence and host condition-dependent cycling between covert and overt infections. Exploitation of fish hosts entails massive proliferation and spore production by stages that escape the immune response. Many aspects of the parasite's life cycle remain obscure. If infectious stages are produced in all hosts then the complex life cycle includes multiple transmission routes.;6. Patterns of disease outbreaks suggest that background, subclinical infections exist under normal environmental conditions. When conditions change, outbreaks may then occur in regions where infection was hitherto unsuspected.;7. Environmental change is likely to cause PKD outbreaks in more northerly regions as warmer temperatures promote disease development, enhance bryozoan biomass and increase spore production, but may also reduce the geographical range of this unique multihost-parasite system. Coevolutionary dynamics resulting from host-parasite interactions that maximise fitness in previous environments may pose problems for sustainability, particularly in view of extensive declines in salmonid populations and degradation of many freshwater habitats.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP) > Center for Fish and Wildlife Health (FIWI)

UniBE Contributor:

Schmidt-Posthaus, Heike, Wahli, Thomas


600 Technology > 630 Agriculture




Blackwell Scientific Publications




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:31

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:10

Publisher DOI:


Web of Science ID:


URI: (FactScience: 218363)

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