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Fish Shellfish Immunol. 2014 Jan;36(1):291-8. doi: 10.1016/j.fsi.2013.11.019. Epub 2013 Dec 4.

Growth, feed intake and immune responses of orange-spotted grouper (Epinephelus coioides) exposed to low infectious doses of ectoparasite (Cryptocaryon irritans).

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Key Laboratory of East China Sea and Oceanic Fishery Resources Exploitation, Ministry of Agriculture, East China Sea Fisheries Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences, Shanghai, PR China.
College of Animal Science, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province 510642, PR China.
Key Laboratory for Aquatic Products Safety of Ministry of Education, State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol, The School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, 135 Xingang West Street, Haizhu District, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province 510275, PR China. Electronic address:


To explore the effect of low-dose Cryptocaryon irritans infection on growth, feeding and antiparasitic immunity of orange-spotted grouper (Epinephelus coioides), this study utilized C. irritans at concentrations of 5500 theronts/fish (Group I, 1/10 of 96 h LC50) or 11,000 theronts/fish (Group II) to infect E. coioides weighing 38 g on average at week 0, 2 and 4, respectively. Food consumption was recorded daily; the fish were weighed weekly; serum immobilizing titer (SIT), and acid phosphatase (ACP), alkaline phosphatase (AKP), superoxide dismutase (SOD), lysozyme (LZM) activity were recorded every 2 weeks; the fish were treated with lethal dose (70,000 theronts/fish) of C. irritans in the 8th week and death number were recorded. The result shows that in the 1st week after the first infection, the fish's weight gain (WG), length gain (LG), and specific growth rate (SGR) dropped as parasite dose increased, and WG, SGR values were negative; while, after the 2nd and the 3rd infection, no significant differences were detected among the three groups. These results indicated that the 1st infection affected the fish most, while the following infections were protected by some immunity. In the 3rd, 7th, and 8th week, condition factor (CF) increased with the increased infectious dose, indicating that the parasite affected body length more than body weight. As the experiment went on, accumulated food consumption (AFC) of all three groups steadily grew (control > Group I > Group II). But on the 2nd day after the first infection, daily food consumption (DFC) of Group I and II significantly dropped, the decline of Group II was greater than that of Group I, DFC recovered in the following week, with Group I earlier than Group II. After the 2nd infection, DFC of Group I and II dropped again, Group II still dropped more than Group I, and both groups recovered on the 3rd day after infection. The 3rd infection caused no significant difference in week food consumption (WFC). These results indicated that a higher dose of infection causes a greater drop in FC and a slower recovery. Weekly feed conversion ratio (WFCR) values of Group I and II in the 1st week was negative; in the 2nd week, WFCR was lower in the group infected by a higher dose of parasite; while in the 3rd and following weeks, no significant pattern was observed. Accumulate feed conversion ratio (AFCR) dropped as the infectious dose increased (control > Group I > Group II), AFCR of Group I and II reached above 0 in the 2nd and 4th week, respectively. From the 4th week on, the inter-group AFCR of the 3 groups still took on a declining trend with the increased infectious dose but the gap became smaller. One week after the first infection, SIT of Group I and Group II were 0; one week after the 2nd infection, SIT reached up to 8 (Group I) and 16 (Group II) respectively; and after the 3rd infection, SIT further increased and peaked in the 7th week. When challenged by lethal dose of C. irritans, fish of all 3 groups began to die since the 3rd day after infection, and the final deaths were 14, 12 and 8 for the control group, Group I and Group II, respectively. ACP activity in the 1st, 5th, 7th but the 3rd week was higher in the experiment group than that in the control group, but no significant difference was detected between Group I and II throughout the experiment. AKP activity increased as the infectious dose increased, but the difference among the three groups gradually became less obvious in latter infections, and no significant difference can be detected in the end. SOD activity increased with infection dose at each time point, while both group I and group II had their SOD activities first increased and then decreased as times of infection increased. The LZM activity of the two infection groups increased as the infectious times increased. Combining the results on growth and feeding, we speculated that the fish's physiological condition stabilized after 3 rounds of infection. To sum up, low-dose infection by C. irritans can induce the fish's immunity, but at the cost of decreasing food intake, decreased food conversion, and lagged growth.


Cryptocaryon irritans; Epinephelus coioides; Food intake; Growth; Immune response

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