Characterization of ichthyocidal activity of Pfiesteria piscicida: Dependence on the dinospore cell density

Tomás Drgon, Keiko Saito, Patrick M. Gillevet, Masoumeh Sikaroodi, Brent Whitaker, Danara N. Krupatkina, Federico Argemi, Gerardo R. Vasta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The ichthyocidal activity of Pfiesteria piscicida dinospores was examined in an aquarium bioassay format by exposing fish to either Pfiesteria-containing environmental sediments or clonal P. piscicida. The presence of Pfiesteria spp. and the complexity of the microbial assemblage in the bioassay were assessed by molecular approaches. Cell-free water from bioassays that yielded significant fish mortality failed to show ichthyocidal activity. Histopathological examination of moribund and dead fish failed to reveal the skin lesions reported elsewhere. Fish larvae within "cages" of variable mesh sizes were killed in those where the pore size exceeded that of Pfiesteria dinospores. In vitro exposure of fish larvae to clonal P. piscicida indicated that fish mortality was directly proportional to the dinospore cell density. Dinospores clustered around the mouth, eyes, and operculi, suggesting that fish health may be affected by their direct interaction with skin, gill epithelia, or mucous surfaces. Molecular fingerprinting revealed the presence of a very diverse microbial community of bacteria, protists, and fungi within bioassay aquaria containing environmental sediments. Some components of the microbial community were identified as potential fish pathogens, preventing the rigorous identification of Pfiesteria spp. as the only cause of fish death. In summary, our results strongly suggest (i) that this aquarium bioassay format, which has been extensively reported in the literature, is unsuitable to accurately assess the ichthyocidal activity of Pfiesteria spp. and (ii) that the ichthyocidal activity of Pfiesteria spp. is mostly due to direct interactions of the zoospores with fish skin and gill epithelia rather than to soluble factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)519-529
Number of pages11
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Characterization of ichthyocidal activity of Pfiesteria piscicida: Dependence on the dinospore cell density'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this