Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
The parasite, Anguillicola crassus is a non-native species that infects naive European eels, Anguilla anguilla, and causes pathological damage to the swimbladder, potentially compromising their ability to cope with hypoxic conditions. This study aimed to elucidate whether anguillicolosis exacerbates the stress responses to exposure to hypoxic water, conditions that have been implicated in mass mortalities of wild infected European eels. Blood parameters in infected and uninfected eels were measured during exposure to severe hypoxia over an 8-h period. Infected fish showed significantly higher levels of plasma cortisol compared with uninfected eels after 4 h of hypoxia. Uninfected fish showed an almost twofold increase in plasma glucose after 8-h exposure to hypoxia but infected fish showed no significant change, so that the plasma glucose concentration was significantly higher in uninfected eels than in infected eels. Both groups showed similar elevations in blood haematocrit, suggesting a similar catecholamine response in infected and uninfected eels. The lack of a hyperglycaemic response in infected eels, despite indirect evidence of a catecholamine response to hypoxia, may reflect an increase in glucose turnover. The data suggest that anguillicolosis results in a significantly greater corticosteroid stress response to hypoxia accompanied by a higher metabolic cost.
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