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Dis Aquat Organ. 2010 Jul 26;91(1):47-56. doi: 10.3354/dao02245.

Pleistophora hyphessobryconis (Microsporidia) infecting zebrafish Danio rerio in research facilities.

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Department of Microbiology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA.


Zebrafish Danio rerio are important models for biomedical research, and thus, there is an increased concern about diseases afflicting them. Here we describe infections by Pleistophora hyphessobryconis (Microsporidia) in zebrafish from 3 laboratories. As reported in other aquarium fishes, affected zebrafish exhibited massive infections in the skeletal muscle, with no involvement of smooth or cardiac muscle. In addition, numerous spores within macrophages were observed in the visceral organs, including the ovaries. Transmission studies and ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene sequence comparisons confirmed that the parasite from zebrafish was P. hyphessobryconis as described from neon tetra Paracheirodon innesi. Ten 15 d old zebrafish were exposed to P. hyphessobryconis collected from 1 infected neon tetra, and 7 of 10 fish became infected. Comparison of P. hyphessobryconis small subunit rRNA gene sequence from neon tetra with that obtained from zebrafish was nearly identical, with < 1% difference. Given the severity of infections, P. hyphessobryconis should be added to the list of pathogens that should be avoided in zebrafish research facilities, and it would be prudent to avoid mixing zebrafish used in research with other aquarium fishes.

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