• chronic ulcerative dermatopathy;
  • groundwater;
  • Murray cod;
  • pathology;
  • rodlet cell


We have previously identified an unknown cell type in the gills of Murray cod affected with chronic ulcerative dermatopathy (CUD), a condition that causes severe erosion of epidermis surrounding cephalic and lateral line sensory canals. The condition arises in aquaculture facilities that utilize groundwater, with the cause of the condition suggested to be an unknown contaminant(s). Light and transmission electron microscopy were used to characterize and quantify the unknown cells in CUD-affected Murray cod. The cells were identified as rodlet cells and were characterized by their oval or round shape, basally located nucleus, thick fibrillar capsule surrounding the cell, and multiple rodlet sacs containing a central electron-dense core within the cell. Rodlet cells were present in the gills, kidney and intestine of non-CUD-affected and CUD-affected Murray cod; however, differences in the numbers were observed between the groups of fish. A significantly greater number of rodlet cells were observed in the gills and collecting ducts of CUD-affected fish. This is the first report of rodlet cells in Murray cod, and we suggest that the increased rodlet cell numbers in CUD-affected Murray cod may be in response to unknown water contaminant(s) present in the groundwater that give rise to CUD.