Morphologic, pathologic, and genetic investigations of bolbophorus species affecting cultured channel catfish in the mississippi delta

M. G. Levy*, J. R. Flowers, M. F. Poore, J. E. Mullen, L. H. Khoo, L. M. Pote, I. Paperna, R. Dzikowski, R. W. Litaker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Trematodes belonging to the genus Bolbophorus have recently been reported as the cause of substantial morbidity and mortality in cultured channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus in Mississippi and Louisiana. Previous investigators identified only a single species, B. confusus. In this investigation, genetic techniques were used to identify all stages of the parasite in all of its hosts. The 18s rRNA genes from specimens collected in Mississippi were sequenced and compared; this analysis revealed that there are two distinct species, B. damnificus (previously identified as B. confusus) and another, undescribed species. (Phylogenetic analysis indicated that a third species, B. levantinus, is also closely related to the Mississippi species.) Species-specific polymerase chain reaction assays capable of identifying and differentiating between these two parasites were developed. Both species were found to infect the first intermediate host (the ram’s horn snail Planorbella trivolvis) in commercial channel catfish ponds, but only B. damnificus was recovered from the fish themselves. The new, unidentified Bolbophorus species was determined to be highly pathogenic to a number of fish species. The contribution of B. damnificus to disease in cultured channel catfish remains undetermined. Future investigations of these parasites must now take into account the presence of two distinct species.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)235-246
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Aquatic Animal Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by grants from the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine and grant N.C.I. 1999007 of the United States–Israel Binational Science Foundation, North Carolina–Israel Special Program. The assistance of Bryon Yonish, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, and Heather Cal-lahan, North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, is gratefully acknowledged. D. T. King, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Research Center, Mississippi State, Mississippi, kindly provided the American white pelican used for collecting Bol-bophorus damnificus and Bolbophorus sp. type 2 worms.


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