Gyrodactylus salaris (Monogenea, Platyhelminthes) is a notifiable freshwater pathogen responsible for causing catastrophic damage to wild Atlantic salmon stocks, most notably in Norway. In some strains of Baltic salmon (e.g., from the river Neva) however, the impact is greatly reduced due to some form of innate resistance that regulates parasite numbers, resulting in fewer host mortalities. Gyrodactylus salaris is known from 17 European states; its status in a further 35 states remains unknown; the UK, the Republic of Ireland and certain watersheds in Finland are free of the parasite. Thus, the parasite poses a serious threat if it emerges in Atlantic salmon rearing regions throughout Europe. At present, infections are generally controlled via extreme measures such as the treatment of entire river catchments with the biocide rotenone, in order to remove all hosts, before restocking with the original genetic stock. The use of rotenone in this way in EU countries is unlikely as it would be in contravention of the Water Framework Directive. Not only are such treatments economically and environmentally costly, they also eradicate the potential for any host/parasite evolutionary process to occur. Based on previous studies, UK salmon stocks have been shown to be highly susceptible to infection, analogous to Norwegian stocks. The present study investigates the impact of a G. salaris outbreak within a naïve salmon population in order to determine long-term consequences of infection and the likelihood of coexistence. Simulation of the salmon/ G. salaris system was carried out via a deterministic mathematical modelling approach to examine the dynamics of host-pathogen interactions. Results indicated that in order for highly susceptible Atlantic strains to evolve a resistance, both a moderate-strong deceleratingly costly trade-off on birth rate and a lower overall cost of the immune response are required. The present study provides insights into the potential long term impact of G. salaris if introduced into G. salaris-free territories and suggests that in the absence of external controls salmon populations are likely to recover to high densities nearing 90% of that observed pre-infection.
|Early online date||29 Dec 2016|
|Publication status||First published - 29 Dec 2016|
- Death rates
- Host-pathogen interactions
- Immune response
- Parasite evolution
- Parasitic disease