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The swimbladder nematode Anguillicola crassus in the European eel Anguilla anguilla and the Japanese eel Anguilla japonica: differences in susceptibility and immunity between a recently colonized host and the original host

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 February 2007

K. Knopf*
Department of Inland Fisheries, Leibniz-Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Müggelseedamm 310, 12587 Berlin, Germany
* Fax: +49 30 64181799,


The swimbladder nematode Anguillicola crassus originates from Asia where it is a parasite of the Japanese eel Anguilla japonica. After its introduction to Europe about 25 years ago, the parasite spread rapidly within the indigenous populations of the European eel Anguilla anguilla and subsequently the prevalence and mean intensity appeared to stabilize. Under experimental and aquaculture conditions the naïve new host appears to be more susceptible to A. crassus compared to the original host. Both eel species develop a immune response against A. crassus. The antibody response is well characterized for the European eel, but poorly characterized for the Japanese eel. It remains unclear if antibodies have any protective function against A. crassus. Encapsulation of larvae of A. crassus can be observed in naturally infected European eels. However, encapsulation of larvae following experimental infection has not been detected in European eels, but only in Japanese eels. Reinfection experiments and intraperitoneal injection of A. crassus homogenates failed to demonstrate the development of acquired immunity in European eels. Immunization with irradiated third stage larvae provided preliminary evidence for acquired immunity against A. crassus in the Japanese eel, but not in the European eel.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2006

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