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J Fish Dis. 2006 Mar;29(3):167-74.

Host preference of adult Caligus elongatus Nordmann in the laboratory and its implications for Atlantic cod aquaculture.

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Section for Parasitology, National Veterinary Institute, Oslo, Norway.


The sea louse Caligus elongatus utilizes a range of marine fish species as hosts, and it has been suggested that fish farms are infected with adult C. elongatus from wild fish hosts. We assessed experimentally whether dislodged lice return to their original host species. Adult lice from wild lumpfish and saithe were presented to lumpfish, sea trout, Atlantic cod, saithe and European plaice. All fish species became infected. Lumpfish and cod were strongly preferred, followed by saithe, trout and plaice. Lice from wild saithe showed a preference for saithe and lumpfish, followed by cod, sea trout and plaice. The mtCO1 gene was used to determine the genotypes of the lice. Lice from lumpfish were genotype 1. Lice from saithe were mainly genotype 2. The two genotypes of C. elongatus differed slightly in their host preferences: lice from saithe were less discriminating. The data support the hypothesis that adult C. elongatus may transfer between different host species. Cod is an attractive host for lice from both lumpfish and saithe, which suggests that C. elongatus may become a serious pest of farmed cod.

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