Atlantic salmon immune response to infestation (AGD) and influence of host physiological status

Atlantic salmon immune response to infestation (AGD) and influence of host physiological status


Full time PhD student:

  • Ottavia Benedicenti 2013-2017

Amoebic Gill Disease (AGD) is an important emerging disease in Scottish salmon aquaculture. It has the potential to severely impact on the sustainability of salmon aquaculture due to fish welfare/losses and cost of treatments/management. Knowledge on the host/immune response against AGD is limited and is fundamental to identifying prophylactic treatment approaches.  Environmental conditions are known to affect the causative agent Paramoeba perurans but their effect on the host defence response is also important in understanding the role they play in disease emergence.

Researcher in labThis project will attempt to address the following key questions:

  1. What type of host/immune response is induced during AGD?
  2. Does stress affect this response?
  3. What is the effect of hormonal changes during the salmon production cycle on key immune responses, and is there an interplay between hormonal changes and stress on host responses to AGD?

The results will give a better understanding of the type of salmon host response elicited against AGD and guide appropriately targeted prophylactic measures. They will also give an understanding of the impact of stress on the host response to AGD allowing the industry to adjust husbandry and treatment practices accordingly.

In the histological image of infected salmon gill tissue shown here, hyperplasia of respiratory epithelium and fusion of gill lamellae in response to infection can be seen. Interlamellar lacunae or vesicles usually contain individual parasites (circled). H&E staining.

Salmon gill tissue with parasite circled grey background with white smears


Which Th pathway is involved during late stage amoebic gill disease?'. Fish & Shellfish Immunology, vol 46, no. 2, pp. 417-425.

Scottish Funding Council logo