Clinical and aetiological aspects of a summer enteritic syndrome associated with the sporulating segmented filamentous bacterium ‘Candidatus Arthromitus’ in farmed rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss (Walbaum)


Christian Michel, Unité de Virologie et Immunologie moléculaires, INRA, CRJJ, 78852 Jouy-en-Josas cedex, France. (e-mail:


An enteritic syndrome affecting farmed rainbow trout and occurring predominantly in summer has recently been described and related to the massive accumulation of a segmented filamentous bacterium (SFB), ‘Candidatus Arthromitus’, in the digestive tract of fish. Details of the clinical manifestations, the characteristics of the bacterium and the possible aetiology of the disease are presented in this paper. No other bacterial pathogen than ‘Candidatus Arthromitus’ was characterized in trout undergoing the enteritic syndrome. From clinical and histopathological observations, a toxin or toxic product accumulation was suspected in affected trout, and could account for the massive destruction of the intestinal mucosa. However, the origin and aetiological role of the SFB could not be clearly elucidated, although most of the filaments appeared to beviable and to produce and release strings of endospores in the lumen of the gut. The organism could not be cultured in the conditions tested, shared several morphological and structural characteristics with related bacteria described in the intestinal microflora of different vertebrate species, but no attachment structure was definitively recognized. All attempts to detect similar SFB in the fish diet orin the environment of affected fish farms were unsuccessful. It is unclear whether this organism represents a normal and not previously detected inhabitant of the intestine of trout stressed after environmental perturbation, or whether it results directly from external sources of contamination.