Fish mucus has previously been reported to change in appearance and composition among species and in response to changes in salinity and disease status. This study reports on the mucus viscosity and glycoprotein biochemistry of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.), brown trout (Salmo trutta L.) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss Walbaum) in freshwater and seawater, both naive to and affected by amoebic gill disease (AGD). Cutaneous mucus viscosity was measured over a range of shear rates (11.5, 23, 46 and 115 s(-1)), and non-Newtonian behaviour was demonstrated for all three species. Mucus viscosity was significantly greater in seawater than in freshwater for all species, and significantly lower in AGD-affected Atlantic salmon and brown trout. Mucus glucose, total protein and osmolality data indicated that differences in viscosity due to salinity were mostly attributed to changes in mucus hydration, while differences due to disease were mostly attributed to changes in mucus composition. Trends in gill mucus cell histochemistry included shifts in glycoproteins from neutral mucins in freshwater to acidic mucins in seawater, and shifts towards neutral mucins, with an increase in mucus cell numbers, in response to AGD. Results suggested that Atlantic salmon and brown trout are more similar to one another in their mucus profile than to rainbow trout. Atlantic salmon and brown trout both exhibited a whole-body mucus response to AGD, whereas rainbow trout exhibited only a local gill response. Findings hold implications for fish physiology and pathology, and indicate that future fish-disease management strategies should be species and condition specific.
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