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Ceratomyxa shasta genotypes cause differential mortality in their salmonid hosts


Correspondence J L Bartholomew, Department of Microbiology, Oregon State University, 220 Nash Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA (e-mail:


Ceratomyxa shasta is a myxozoan parasite of salmonid fish. In natural communities, distinct genotypes of the parasite are associated with different salmonid hosts. To test the hypothesis that genotypes of C. shasta cause differential mortality, the polychaete host was experimentally infected with different parasite genotypes. Genotype I was obtained from Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, and genotype II from either coho salmon, O. kisutch, or rainbow trout, O. mykiss, We then challenged four salmonid strains: Chinook and coho salmon that occur in sympatry with the parasite and allopatric Chinook salmon and rainbow trout. Parasite genotype I caused mortality only in Chinook strains, although mortality in the allopatric strain also occurred from exposure to genotype II. A second experiment demonstrated that genotype II could be separated into two biotypes based on differential mortality in rainbow trout and coho salmon. These differential patterns of mortality as a result of infection by certain genotypes of C. shasta support field observations and suggest a co-evolutionary relationship between these parasites and their hosts.