Under environmental conditions, fish can be exposed to multiple stressors including natural toxins and infectious agents at the same time. This study brings new knowledge on the effects of controlled exposure to multiple stressors in fish. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that influence of cyanobacterial biomass and an infection agent represented by the white spot disease can combine to enhance the effects on fish.
Common carps were divided into four groups, each with 40 specimens for 20 days: control group, cyanobacterial biomass exposed group, Ichthyophthirius multifiliis-infected fish (Ich) and cyanobacterial biomass-exposed fish + Ichthyophthirius multifiliis-infected fish. During the experiment we evaluated the clinical signs, mortality, selected haematological parameters, immune parameters and toxin accumulation.
There was no mortality in control fish and cyanobacterial biomass-exposed fish. One specimen died in Ichthyophthirius multifiliis-infected fish and the combined exposure resulted in the death of 13 specimens. The whole leukocyte counts (WBC) of the control group did not show any significant differences. Cyanobacteria alone caused a significant increase of the WBC on day 13 (p≤0.05) and on day 20 (p≤0.01). Also, I. multifiliis caused a significant elevation of WBC (p≤0.01) on day 20. Co-exposition resulted in WBC increased on day 13 and decrease on day 20, but the changes were not significant. It is evident from the differential leukocyte counts that while the increase of WBC in the group exposed to cyanobacteria was caused by elevation of lymphocytes, the increase in the group infected by I. multifiliis was due to the increase of myeloid cells. It well corresponds with the integral of chemiluminescence in the group infected by I. multifiliis, which is significantly elevated on day 20 in comparison with all other groups.
We can confirm additive action of different agents on the immune system of fish. While single agents seemed to stimulate the immune response, the combination of both caused immunosuppression.