What is it about?

Lernaeocera branchialis is an external parasite of some fish (e.g. cod, haddock, whiting), although its life cycle also involves free-swimming stages and an intermediate host (usually a flatfish). Therefore, to find a suitable new host, it must use a range of methods, including using chemical and physical cues from host fish. The purpose of this study was to investigate in the laboratory the behaviour of Lernaeocera branchialis parasites in response to chemicals obtained from host fish to help understand how these host odours help the parasite to locate a host.

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Why is it important?

Cod, haddock and whiting are important fisheries in the North Atlantic, and cod aquaculture is likely to expand in the future. Understanding the diseases that affect these fish is important to help protect wild stocks and also mitigate disease outbreaks in aquaculture stocks. This work could be used to form the basis of parasite control measures in aquaculture should Lernaeocera branchialis prove to be problematic in the future.


This work was a part of my PhD research, where I created novel methods for observing and analysing the behaviour of the parasites in observation chambers. The methods and software that I developed for this work can easily be used for other free-swimming animals, including parasites, to investigate their behaviour in response to external cues.

Dr Adam J Brooker
University of Stirling

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Role of kairomones in host location of the pennellid copepod parasite, Lernaeocera branchialis (L. 1767), Parasitology, February 2013, Cambridge University Press,
DOI: 10.1017/s0031182012002119.
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