Transcriptomic analysis of Baltic cod (Gadus morhua) liver infected with Contracaecum osculatum third stage larvae indicates parasitic effects on growth and immune response.Fish Shellfish Immunol. 2019 Oct; 93:965-976.FS
High infection levels due to third-stage larvae of the anisakid nematode Contracaecum osculatum have been documented in cod from the eastern part of the Baltic sea during the latest decades. The nematode larvae mainly infect the liver of Baltic cod and prevalence of infection has reached 100% with a mean intensity up to 80 parasites per host in certain areas and size classes. Low condition factors of the cod have been observed concomitant with the rise in parasite abundance suggesting a parasitic effect on growth parameters. To investigate any association between parasite infection and physiological status of the host we performed a comparative transcriptomic analysis of liver obtained from C. osculatum infected and non-infected cod. A total of 47,025 predicted gene models showed expression in cod liver and sequences corresponding to 2084 (4.43%) unigenes were differentially expressed in infected liver when compared to non-infected liver. Of the differentially expressed unigenes (DEGs) 1240 unigenes were up-regulated while 844 unigenes were down-regulated. The Gene Ontology (GO) enrichment analysis showed that 1304 DEGs were represented in cellular process and single-organism process, cell and cell part, binding and catalytic activity. As determined by the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Gene and Genomes (KEGG) Pathways analysis, 454 DEGs were involved in 138 pathways. Ninety-seven genes were related to metabolic pathways including carbohydrate, lipid, and amino acid metabolism. Thirteen regulated genes were playing a role in immune response such as Toll-like receptor signaling, NOD-like receptor signaling, RIG-I-like receptor signalling and thirty-six genes were associated with growth processes. This indicates that the nematode infection in Baltic cod may affect on molecular mechanisms involving metabolism, immune function and growth.