TitleExperimental exposure of zebrafish, Danio rerio (Hamilton), to Mycobacterium marinum and Mycobacterium peregrinum reveals the gastrointestinal tract as the primary route of infection: a potential model for environmental mycobacterial infection.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsHarriff, MJ, Bermudez, LE, Kent, ML
JournalJournal of fish diseases
Date Published2007 Oct

The natural route by which fish become infected with mycobacteria is unknown. Danio rerio (Hamilton) were exposed by bath immersion and intubation to Mycobacterium marinum and Mycobacterium peregrinum isolates obtained from diseased zebrafish. Exposed fish were collected over the course of 8 weeks and examined for the presence of mycobacteriosis. Mycobacteria were consistently cultured from the intestines, and often from the livers and spleens of fish exposed by both methods. Mycobacteria were not observed in the gills. Histological analysis revealed that fish infected with M. marinum often developed granulomas accompanied by clinical signs of mycobacteriosis, while infection with M. peregrinum infrequently led to clinical signs of disease. Passage of the bacteria through environmental amoebae (Acanthamoeba castellani) was associated with increased growth of M. peregrinum over the course of 8 weeks, when compared to infection with the bacteria not passed through amoebae. The results provide evidence that zebrafish acquire mycobacteria primarily through the intestinal tract, resulting in mycobacterial dissemination.