Assessing the impacts of Hyalophysa lynni infection on oxygen consumption of commercial shrimp

Roland Berg, from Lewis & Smith College, worked with Megan Tomamichel and others in the lab of Dr. Jeb Byers.

Abstract Shrimp black gill disease (sBG), caused by the parasite Hyalophysa lynni, may be contributing to the recent declines in commercial shrimp populations off the Southeastern US coast. H. lynni attaches to shrimp gill tissue, triggering an immune response that causes gill melanization characteristic of sBG. While effective at killing the parasite, this immune response also deteriorates surrounding gill tissue; thus, sBG is speculated to alter host respiration. To address the impact of H. lynni infection on host oxygen uptake, we isolated individual shrimp in containers filled with artificial seawater and monitored the changing dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations of their water over the course of five days. Afterwards, we diagnosed shrimp with sBG by pulling their gill tissue and performing a DNA extraction and PCR assay to identify the presence of H. lynni DNA. Although our results suggested that H. lynni infection did not impact host oxygen consumption, several other factors were significant predictors of a system’s DO concentration (most significantly time, shrimp length, water temperature, and shrimp gill color). Further research is needed to determine shrimp black gill’s effects on other gill functions, such as acid-base balance and ammonia excretion, as well as H. lynni’s impact on host respiration outside of restful experimental conditions.