The Bartholomew Lab established the parasite life cycle in the AAHL isolation lab, using both fish and worm hosts. Whirling Disease afflicts salmon and trout and is caused by an introduced parasite, Myxobolus cerebralis. It has had significant economic and ecological impacts on native and hatchery fish. Establishment of the complex life cycle involving an invertebrate host and 2 spore stages enabled experiments into genetic characterization of hosts, host susceptibility and the influence of temperature and water flow on infection dynamics. Water flow rate is an environmental variable affecting the establishment and propagation of M. cerebralis. Both the parasite and its invertebrate host proliferate to a greater extent in a slow flow environment. This finding is of significance for aquatic systems where the flow rate can be manipulated, and should be incorporated into risk analysis asssessments.
Hallett, S. and Bartholomew, J. 2008. Effects of water flow on the infection dynamics of Myxobolus cerebralis. Parasitology. 135:371-84.