Differences in susceptibility of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) and the Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica) to the swim-bladder nematode Anguillicola crassus

K. KNOPF a1c1 and M. MAHNKE a1
a1 Department of Inland Fisheries, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Müggelseedamm 310, 12587 Berlin, Germany

Article author query
knopf k   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
mahnke m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


The swim-bladder nematode Anguillicola crassus originates from the Far East where it is a parasite of the Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica). After A. crassus was introduced to Europe, it became a predominant parasite of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla). A study performed with experimentally infected eels (98 days, 23 °C) revealed significant differences in the susceptibility of the two eel species to this parasite. The recovery rate of 30 administered infective A. crassus larvae (L3) from A. japonica was less than half of that from A. anguilla (33·2% and 13·8%, respectively). Almost 60% of the worms recovered from A. japonica were found as dead, encapsulated and necrotic larvae in the swimbladder wall. In contrast, no dead larvae were found in A. anguilla. Additionally, the development of the worms was shown to be significantly slower in A. japonica compared with A. anguilla. The lower survival rate of the worms, together with their slower development, resulted in a significantly lower adult worm burden (11 and 428 mg wet weight, respectively) and in a decreased reproductive success in A. japonica compared with A. anguilla. These results demonstrate that the original host, A. japonica, possesses more effective defence mechanisms against A. crassus than does the non-adapted host, A. anguilla.

(Received March 3 2004)
(Revised March 24 2004)
(Accepted March 24 2004)

Key Words: Anguilla anguilla; Anguilla japonica; Anguillicola crassus; susceptibility; experimental infection.

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