Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Parasites & Vectors and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research

The effect of octopaminergic compounds on the behaviour and transmission of Gyrodactylus

Adam J Brooker1*, Mayra I Grano Maldonado1, Stephen Irving2, James E Bron1, Matthew Longshaw2 and Andrew P Shinn1

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK

2 Cefas Weymouth Laboratory, The Nothe, Barrack Road, Weymouth, DT4 8UB, UK

For all author emails, please log on.

Parasites & Vectors 2011, 4:207  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-4-207

Published: 27 October 2011

Abstract

Background

The high transmission potential of species belonging to the monogenean parasite genus Gyrodactylus, coupled with their high fecundity, allows them to rapidly colonise new hosts and to increase in number. One gyrodactylid, Gyrodactylus salaris Malmberg, 1957, has been responsible for devastation of Altantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) populations in a number of Norwegian rivers. Current methods of eradicating G. salaris from river systems centre around the use of non-specific biocides, such as rotenone and aluminium sulphate.

Although transmission routes in gyrodactylids have been studied extensively, the behaviour of individual parasites has received little attention. Specimens of Gyrodactylus gasterostei Gläser, 1974 and G. arcuatus Bychowsky, 1933, were collected from the skin of their host, the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.), and permitted to attach to the substrate. The movements of individual parasites were recorded and analysed.

Results

The behaviour patterns of the two species were similar and parasites were more active in red light and darkness than in white light. Four octopaminergic compounds were tested and all four inhibited the movements of parasites. Treatment ultimately led to death at low concentrations (0.2 μM), although prolonged exposure was necessary in some instances.

Conclusions

Octopaminergic compounds may affect the parasite's ability to locate and remain on its host and these or related compounds might provide alternative or supplementary treatments for the control of G. salaris infections. With more research there is potential for use of octopaminergic compounds, which have minimal effects on the host or its environment, as parasite-specific treatments against G. salaris infections.

Keywords:
Gyrodactylus; octopamine; behaviour; toxicology