UI Center for Research on Invasive Species and Small Populations UI Center for Research on Invasive Species and Small Populations University of Idaho College of Natural Resources University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Image Map
Aug 082012
 

Christine MoffittProfessor of Fish Biology
Assistant Unit Leader
Idaho Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit
Fishery Resources

(208) 885-7047
cmoffitt@uidaho.edu

Biography

Dr. Christine Moffitt received a BA in Biology from the University of California, MA in Biological Sciences from Smith College, and a PhD in Fisheries Biology from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Christine’s research is focused aquatic fish biology and invasive species in fisheries. She also specializes in invertebrates and how they interact on a generalized scale with spatial tools. more info

CRISSP Research

More specifically, research is currently being conducted on controlling and understanding the risks of New Zealand mudsnails with fish hatchery operations. In addition Christine evaluates the risks of invasive species with barrier removal in streams and rivers.

CRISSP Classes

(click on the link below for more information)

Fish 510: Advanced Fish Management

 August 8, 2012
Aug 072012
 

Title: Development and optimization of an Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) to detect Flavobacterium psychrophilum, etiologic agent of bacterial coldwater disease and rainbow trout fry syndrome in salmonids
Student: Nicole M. Lindstrom
Department: Fish & Wildlife Resources

Project Summary

There is strong evidence that Flavobacterium psychrophilum, the etiologic agent of coldwater disease (CWD), is transmitted vertically and it has been hypothesized that disease management at hatchery facilities may be improved through broodstock screening and implementation of culling programs. This study describes the development of two assays to screen broodstock tissues (kidney and ovarian fluid) for the presence of F. psychrophilum. Four monoclonal antibodies were generated against F. psychrophilum (CSF 259-93) outer membrane preparations. Of these, FL43 was selected for assay development and shown to react with 67 F. psychrophilum isolates tested, but did not react with two strains of Flavobacterium columnare or one strain each of F. pectinovorum, F. aquatile, F. branchiophilum, and F. saccharophilum. An ELISA was developed using FL43 as the capture antibody and FL43 conjugated to horseradish peroxidase as the secondary detection antibody. The ELISA had a lower detection boundary of approximately 1.6 x 103 cfu/mL of F. psychrophilum in kidney tissue homogenates spiked with known bacterial concentrations. Asymptomatic coho salmon broodstock (n=50 samples) were sampled and showed 100% infection by ELISA analysis of kidney tissue and had an estimated bacterial load of 2.0 x 103 – 9.4 x 103 cfu/mL. Ovarian fluid was also collected from these same coho as well as rainbow trout broodstock; however, the ELISA proved unsuitable for ovarian fluid. A filtration based florescent antibody test (FAT) was subsequently developed by conjugating FL43 to Alexa Fluor®-488. This FAT was able to detect F. psychrophilum in 74% of ovarian fluid samples collected from coho salmon and 42% from rainbow trout. Interestingly, yellow-pigmented bacteria were isolated on culture plates from 100% of kidney and ovarian fluid samples. All yellow-pigmented colonies were tested by PCR and 100% of the coho and rainbow trout were confirmed positive for F. psychrophilum infection.

For more information, email the PI: Dr. Kenneth Cain

 August 7, 2012
Aug 072012
 
White Sturgeon. Photo by George Grail.

White Sturgeon. Photo by George Grail.

Title: Evaluation of Lethal and Non-lethal Sampling for the Detection of WSIV Infection in White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus)
Student: John D. Drennan
Department: Fish & Wildlife Resources and the Aquaculture Research Institute

Project Summary

The most common diagnostic approach for identifying white sturgeon iridovirus (WSIV) infection in white sturgeon involves lethal sampling to obtain tissue sections from the head for histological examination. In the present study, non-lethal sampling of fin tissue by histology and PCR was compared to the lethal sampling method for the ability to detect viral infection in sturgeon undergoing an experimental 80-day co-habitation challenge with WSIV isolated from the Columbia River as well as in asymptomatic sturgeon from the Kootenai River. Lethal and non-lethal sampling of each fish involved sagittally cut half heads and left pectoral fin-punch tissue to obtain stained sections for histological examination as well as the removal of a portion of the right pectoral fin for PCR testing. An increase in mortality started to occur after 40 days in the cohabitation groups and by 80 days reached 94%. All three sampling methods were equally capable of identifying infection following 28 days post challenge. However, non-lethal fin histology did not identify infection earlier than this time point and non-lethal PCR of fin tissue was more likely to detect infection compared to the standard lethal sampling method. Both lethal and non-lethal histology identified the same asymptomatic individuals from the Kootenai River population but no fish were positive by PCR, suggesting genomic differences exist between isolates. Results from this study suggest that WSIV infection requires at least 4 weeks of incubation before it can be identified histologically in fin tissue. Results also suggest that combining PCR and histological examination of fin tissue by non-lethal sampling could provide an alternative approach for detecting infected individuals in small populations where lethal sampling would be detrimental.

For more information, email the PI: Dr. Kenneth Cain”>

 August 7, 2012
Aug 072012
 
Rainbow trout

Rainbow trout

Title: Evaluation of the protective efficacy of Flavobacterium psychrophilum O-polysaccharide-protein conjugate in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
Student: Benjamin R. LaFrentz
Department: Fish & Wildlife Resources and the Aquaculture Research Institute

Project Summary

Flavobacterium psychrophilum is the etiological agent of coldwater disease (CWD) and rainbow trout fry syndrome (RTFS) and has emerged as one of the most significant bacterial pathogens in salmonid aquaculture in the Pacific Northwest and worldwide. This bacterium is especially problematic for restoration programs of native steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), coho salmon (O. kisutch), chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha), and sockeye salmon (O. nerka) that are endangered and/or threatened species. Much research is being devoted to the development of an efficacious vaccine, since current disease prevention options are inconsistent and many times ineffective. Previous studies in our laboratory and others have suggested that the O-polysaccharide (O-PS) component of the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) of F. psychrophilum is highly immunogenic and may have been involved in eliciting a protective immune response following challenge with F. psychrophilum. We proposed to test the protective efficacy of the O-PS of LPS conjugated to a carrier protein, however, recent findings in our laboratory suggest that the carbohydrate antigens referred to as high molecular mass LPS with O-PS are likely the repeating carbohydrate antigens of the glycocalyx of F. psychrophilum and not LPS. Therefore, we will re-direct our research to further characterize and determine the protective ability of the glycocalyx. Initial studies will involve sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of LPS preparations and western blotting to demonstrate the presence of and distinct differences between the LPS and glycocalyx. Passive immunization experiments will also be conducted using a monoclonal antibody specific for the glycocalyx to determine if antibodies specific for this antigen are protective in rainbow trout. If these antibodies provide protection against F. psychrophilum challenge, then methods to purify the glycocalyx will be examined in order to test the glycocalyx as a vaccine candidate antigen for the prevention of CWD and RTFS.

For more information, email the PI: Dr. Kenneth Cain

 August 7, 2012
Aug 072012
 

Title: North American Burbot Project
Student: Nathan Jensen
Department: Fish & Wildlife Resources

Project Summary

Burbot (Lota lota maculosa) are the only freshwater member of the Cod family Gadidae and native to the Kootenai River in Idaho and Montana USA and BC Canada. In the past, KR burbot sustained recreational, commercial, and sustenance fisheries. Over the last half century populations declined due to anthropogenic influences that changed the KR ecosystems. The most recent population estimates of KR burbot total less than 50. In 2003 KR burbot were denied federal listing as an endangered species. They are currently considered a species of concern in Idaho and Montana and red listed in BC. Although KR burbot were not listed, a multi-agency team of stakeholders consisting of international, tribal, state, and local governments and non-government entities, developed a multifaceted conservation recovery plan with the goal to revitalize the KR burbot population. Development of aquaculture techniques was included in this plan. In 2004, a UI graduate student (MS) project was funded by the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho and focused on developing fundamental aquaculture techniques that could be used as a basis for developing a future conservation breeding program. This primary research successfully developed spawning, semen cryopreservation, egg incubation and larval feeding methods. Following the successful developments, additional funding support was awarded by the KTOI and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to continue aquaculture technique development. Currently, two graduate student (MS) projects are being funded; one with support by KTOI and the other supported by the USFWS. Ongoing research includes improving egg survival during incubation by controlling fungus using fungicides, evaluating the susceptibility of burbot juveniles to specific viral and bacterial pathogens and development and evaluation of extensive larval and juvenile rearing techniques and systems.

For more information, email the PI: Dr. Kenneth Cain

Developing burbot eggs and first feeding larvae (increments = 1mm)

Developing burbot eggs and first feeding larvae (increments = 1mm)

Captive adult burbot

Captive adult burbot

 August 7, 2012
Aug 072012
 

Title: Exploring Feasibility of Proposed Control Strategies for New Zealand Mud Snails at Fish Hatcheries
Student: Rolita Louise Bruce and Jordan Nielson
Department:Fish & Wildlife Resources

Project summary

The New Zealand mud snail is an invasive species that affects rivers and streams throughout the United States. Fish movement through stocking regimes have been documented as likely vectors of spread through the gut of trout. R. Louse Bruce’s studies indicate that a portion of the New Zealand mud snail could survive transit in the intestinal track of rainbow trout. She found in several sizes of fish that 8-12% of the snails in the fish fecal material were alive and over time the snail survival decreased in the trout gastrointestinal tract.

For more information, email the PI: Dr. Christine Moffitt

New Zealand Mudsnails at hatchery.

New Zealand Mudsnails at hatchery. Photo courtesy of Christine Moffitt.

New Zealand Mudsnail

New Zealand Mudsnail

 August 7, 2012
Aug 072012
 

Kenneth CainAssociate Professor of Fish Pathology
Associate Director
Fishery Resources
Aquaculture Research Institute

 

(208) 885-7608
kcain@uidaho.edu

Biography

Dr. Kenneth Cain received a BS and MS in Fish and Wildlife from Michigan State University and a PhD in Animal Sciences from Washington State University. Ken’s research is focused on fish health and pathology. More specifically his primary research projects address fish immunology, aquaculture vaccine development, host-pathogen interactions, the development of new disease diagnostic tools, and antigen characterization/identification. In addition, Ken works in the area of aquaculture development for new species and is currently collaborating with the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho to develop captive rearing methods for Burbot (Lota lota). This species (a freshwater cod) is nearly extinct in Idaho and the methods developed at UI will be incorporated into a conservation aquaculture program to rehabilitate the remnant population in the Kootenai River. more info

CRISSP Research

A number of projects in my lab have investigated new and emerging diseases that create difficulties for species restoration. In some cases these pathogens can be considered invasive species if they are not endemic to this region. A good example of this is the parasite Myxobolus cerebralis, which causes whirling disease. The work that we are doing on vaccine development for coldwater disease also has implications for hatchery programs aimed at recovery of threatened steelhead and Coho salmon populations, as these species are very susceptible to this disease. Finally, the burbot program that has been ongoing since 2004 is directly related to CRISSP in that it is aimed at recovery of a small population in Idaho and is attempting to do this in lieu of listing this stock as an endangered species.

CRISSP Classes

(click on the links below for more information)

Fish 424: Fish Health Management

Fish 422: Concepts in Aquaculture

Fish 494: Seminar: Current Issues in Fish Health

 August 7, 2012