ABSTRACT

Truttaedacnitis truttae is a cucullanid nematode of primarily salmonine fishes. Brown trout (Salmo trutta) in Europe reportedly become parasitized by ingesting lampreys (Lampetra planeri) carrying infective larvae. However, our field and laboratory observations suggested that North American specimens of T. truttae have an alternative life cycle. High abundances and potential impact of T. truttae in rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, in the Colorado River drainage in Grand Canyon, where there are no lampreys, prompted a study on the transmission dynamics of this nematode. Eggs of T. truttae, collected from live gravid females, were incubated in the laboratory. Snails, Physa gyrina and Lymnaea sp., were exposed to T. truttae larvae 3–4 wk later. Active larvae of T. truttae were observed penetrating the intestinal wall of exposed snails, and worm larvae were found in the visceral tissues when examined 1 wk after exposure. Larvae in snails showed little growth and development 2 wk later and corresponded to L3 larvae. Infected snails were fed to hatchery-reared juvenile rainbow trout. Developing stages were subsequently found in the mucosal lining and lumen of trout intestines. Adult male and female (gravid) worms were found in the ceca of trout examined 5–6 mo after consuming infected snails. Larvae found in pepsin/trypsin digests and mucosal scrapings from wild, naturally infected, trout corroborate laboratory findings. Screening of Physa sp. and gammarids collected from Colorado River, Grand Canyon, for natural infections with T. truttae using the ITS1 rDNA marker gave positive results. Truttaedacnitis truttae is the second species, after Truttaedacnitis clitellarius of lake sturgeon, capable of using a snail first intermediate/paratenic host and is similar to several other cucullanids in having a histotropic phase of development in the definitive fish host.

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