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Title: Aspects of the biology and behaviour of Lernaeocera branchialis (Linnaeus, 1767)(Copepoda : Pennellidae)
Author(s): Brooker, Adam Jonathan
Supervisor(s): Shinn, Andrew (Andrew Paul)
Bron, James Emmanuel
Keywords: Lernaeocera branchialis
Image analysis
Issue Date: Sep-2007
Publisher: University of Stirling
Citation: Brooker, A. J., Shinn, A. P. & Bron, J. E. (2007). A Review of the biology of the parasitic copepod Lernaeocera branchialis (L. 1767) (Copepoda: Pennellidae). Advances in Parasitology, 65, 297-341
Abstract: Lernaeocera branchialis (L., 1767) is a parasitic copepod that parasitises a range of gadoids by anchoring in the proximity of the branchial chamber of its host, deriving nutrition from the blood of its host and causing serious pathogenic effects. This study investigates the taxonomy of the juvenile free-swimming stages and host location behaviour in the pre-metamorphosed adult female. The large size and distinctive appearance of the metamorphosed adult female stage, coupled with the wide exploitation and commercial importance of one of its principle final gadoid hosts, the cod (Gadus morhua L.), means that this species has long been recognised in the scientific literature, and here the extensive literature concerning this potentially important and damaging pathogen is re-examined to provide an up to date overview, which includes both aquaculture and wild fisheries perspectives. Due to disagreements between several descriptions of the L. branchialis juvenile stages, and because the majority of the descriptions are over 60 years old, the juvenile free-swimming stages are re-described, using current terminology and a combination of both light and confocal microscopy. The time of hatching and moults in these stages is also examined. Techniques for the automated creation of taxonomic drawings from confocal images using computer software are investigated and the possibilities and implications of this technique are discussed. The method of host location in L. branchialis is unknown but is likely to involve a variety of mechanisms, possibly including chemo-reception, mechano-reception and the use of physical phenomena in the water column, such as haloclines and thermoclines, to search for fish hosts. In this study the role of host-associated chemical cues in host location by adult female L. branchialis is investigated by analysing the parasites behavioural responses to a range of host-derived cues, in both a choice chamber and a 3D tracking arena. To analyse the data from the experiments, specialised computer software (“Paratrack”) was developed to digitise the paths of the parasites’ movements, and calculate a variety of behavioural parameters, allowing behaviour patterns to be identified and compared. The results show that L. branchialis responds to host-associated chemical cues in a similar way to many copepods in the presence of chemical cues. Of the different cues tested, gadoid conditioned water appears to be most attractive to the parasites, although the wide variation in behavioural responses may indicate that other mechanisms are also required for host location. The different behavioural responses of parasites to whiting (Merlangius merlangus L.) and cod (Gadus morhua) conditioned water, which are both definitive hosts, provide some evidence for sub-speciation in L. branchialis. The role of chemical cues in host location of L. branchialis, and the relative importance of chemical and physical cues in host location are discussed. As well as demonstrating several techniques, which show potential for further development, this work has improved our knowledge of the biology and life-cycle of L. branchialis. Further study of this, and other areas of L. branchialis biology and its host-parasite interactions, should assist the development of contingency plans for the effective management and control of this widespread and potentially devastating pathogen.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Natural Sciences

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