What happens to salmon when they get infected with sea lice? Depends on the species

2014-05-28 22_30_08-Comparative transcriptomics of Atlantic Salmo salar, chum Oncorhynchus keta andA new study published earlier this year shows us what happens when salmon get infected with sea lice.

The study, titled “Comparative transcriptomics of Atlantic Salmo salar, chum Oncorhynchus keta and pink salmon O. gorbuscha during infections with salmon lice Lepeophtheirus salmonis,” looked at the biological, physiological and genetic changes in chum, Atlantic and pink salmon when they get infected with sea lice, parasites in the ocean which attach themselves to salmon.

The findings are very interesting. Chum are the most negatively affected, followed by Atlantic salmon, with pinks as the least affected.

We conclude that juvenile pink salmon are resistant whereas juvenile Atlantic and particularly chum salmon are susceptible.

The study found that pink salmon quickly mount an immune system response when infected that lets them shed lice, something which has been seen before and has now been shown again.

Furthermore in pink salmon, the cutaneous production of proinflammatory cytokines, systemic APR and enhanced capacity for complement function may help explain the low levels of infections compared with those on chum and Atlantic salmon.

Read the full study for yourself here.

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