Gill pathology in Scottish farmed Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., associated with the microsporidian Desmozoon lepeophtherii Freeman et Sommerville, 2009


Correspondence C Matthews, Fish Vet Group, 22 Carsegate Road, Inverness, IV3 8EX, UK (email:


Gill disorders have emerged in recent years as a significant problem in the production of marine-stage Atlantic salmon Salmo salar L. The multi-aetiological condition ‘proliferative gill inflammation’ (PGI) has been reported to cause heavy losses in western Norway, yet reports of Scottish cases of the disease have remained anecdotal. In the present study, histopathological material from a marine production site in the Scottish Highlands experiencing mortalities due to a seasonal gill disease with proliferative-type pathology was examined using light microscopy, special staining techniques and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The microsporidian Desmozoon lepeophtherii Freeman et Sommerville, 2009 (syn. Paranucleospora theridion) was identified by staining using a Gram Twort method and TEM associated with distinctive proliferative and necrotic pathology confined to the interlamellar Malpighian cell areas of the primary filaments. Epitheliocystis was not a feature of the gill pathology observed. It is believed this is the first report of D. lepeophtherii being identified associated with pathology in a Scottish gill disease case, and supports anecdotal reports that a disease at least partly synonymous with PGI as described by Norwegian researchers is present in Scottish aquaculture.