The benefit of using zebrafish (Danio rerio) models as part of an integrative approach to improve human health is being realized by the scientific community, with 800 laboratories, supported by some 735 grants from NIH using this fish model. As with any animal model, infections can compromise research by causing high mortalities and subclinical infections compromise research by inducing non-protocol induced variation. Third, Mycobacterium spp. that have been reported from zebrafish are all recognized human pathogens, and thus fish with these infections present human health concerns. Therefore, as with other models, it is imperative to conduct studies with disease-free, healthy zebrafish. Based on 12 years of diagnostics performed by the Zebrafish International Research Center (ZIRC) and research conducted in the last cycles of this grant, we can conclude the following: Mycobacterium spp. and infections by Pseudoloma neurophilia (Microsporidia) are very common in zebrafish research laboratories. Some research facilities have experienced devastating mortalities in their zebrafish colonies due to infections by virulent Mycobacterium spp. Persistent, but less severe, infections by other mycobacteria and Pseudoloma have also plagued several facilities. The modes of transmission of these pathogens have been elucidated, and PCR-based diagnostic tests are available. However, little is known about how subclinical infections impact research endpoints, which is important now as several researchers are now using zebrafish as models in long-term studies on human pathogens, toxicology, aging and behavior. The major aim of the present study is to improve the health of zebrafish used in research facilities by investigating efficacy of disinfectants and antibiotics to reduce or eliminae infections. Evaluation of impacts of chronic infections by M. chelonae and Pseudoloma on fecundity, behavior, and cytokine profiles is another aim. Zebrafish that are immunsuppressed by gamma radiation are important models for human cancer studies, and investigate the impacts of underlying Pseudoloma infections in these fish will be studied. Results will be quickly distributed to the zebrafish community through through publications and the ZIRC web based manual on zebrafish.

Public Health Relevance

Zebrafish have become an extermely important model in biomedical research. Two diseases are very common in research facilities;mycobacteriosis and microsporidiosis caused by Pseudoloma neurophilia. This study investigates methods of control and elucidates the impacts of these infections in this fish. This will lead to reducation of these infections and associated non-protocol induced variation in resarch.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Office of The Director, National Institutes of Health (OD)
Resource-Related Research Projects (R24)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZOD1-CM-6 (01))
Program Officer
Chang, Michael
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Oregon State University
Schools of Earth Sciences/Natur
United States
Zip Code
Martins, M L; Watral, V; Rodrigues-Soares, J P et al. (2016) A method for collecting eggs of Pseudocapillaria tomentosa (Nematoda: Capillariidae) from zebrafish Danio rerio and efficacy of heat and chlorine for killing the nematode's eggs. J Fish Dis :
Spagnoli, S; Sanders, J; Kent, M L (2016) The common neural parasite Pseudoloma neurophilia causes altered shoaling behaviour in adult laboratory zebrafish (Danio rerio) and its implications for neurobehavioural research. J Fish Dis :
Nogueira, Christiane Lourenço; Whipps, Christopher M; Matsumoto, Cristianne Kayoko et al. (2015) Mycobacterium saopaulense sp. nov., a rapidly growing mycobacterium closely related to members of the Mycobacterium chelonae--Mycobacterium abscessus group. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 65:4403-9
Paquette, Colleen E; Kent, Michael L; Peterson, Tracy S et al. (2015) Immunohistochemical characterization of intestinal neoplasia in zebrafish Danio rerio indicates epithelial origin. Dis Aquat Organ 116:191-7
Spagnoli, Sean; Xue, Lan; Kent, Michael L (2015) The common neural parasite Pseudoloma neurophilia is associated with altered startle response habituation in adult zebrafish (Danio rerio): Implications for the zebrafish as a model organism. Behav Brain Res 291:351-60
Chang, Carolyn T; Whipps, Christopher M (2015) Activity of Antibiotics against Mycobacterium Species Commonly Found in Laboratory Zebrafish. J Aquat Anim Health 27:88-95
Spagnoli, Sean Thomas; Xue, Lan; Murray, Katrina N et al. (2015) Pseudoloma neurophilia: a retrospective and descriptive study of nervous system and muscle infections, with new implications for pathogenesis and behavioral phenotypes. Zebrafish 12:189-201
Whipps, Christopher M; Murray, Katrina N; Kent, Michael L (2015) Occurrence of a myxozoan parasite Myxidium streisingeri n. sp. in laboratory zebrafish Danio rerio. J Parasitol 101:86-90
Chang, Carolyn T; Colicino, Erica G; DiPaola, Elizabeth J et al. (2015) Evaluating the effectiveness of common disinfectants at preventing the propagation of Mycobacterium spp. isolated from zebrafish. Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol 178:45-50
West, Kylie; Miles, Rodney; Kent, Michael L et al. (2014) Unusual fluorescent granulomas and myonecrosis in Danio rerio infected by the microsporidian pathogen Pseudoloma neurophilia. Zebrafish 11:283-90

Showing the most recent 10 out of 20 publications