The mechanism (Phe362Tyr mutation) behind resistance in Lepeophtheirus salmonis pre-dates organophosphate use in salmon farming
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The salmon louse is an ectoparasitic copepod of salmonids in the marine environment, and represents a global challenge to salmon aquaculture. A major issue is the reliance of the industry on a limited number of chemicals to delouse salmonids on farms, and the high levels of resistance that lice have developed to all of these agents. However, for most of these chemicals, resistance and dispersal mechanisms are unknown. We recently demonstrated that the Phe362Tyr mutation is the primary cause of organophosphate resistance in lice collected on Norwegian farms. In the present study, we genotyped >2000 lice collected throughout the entire North Atlantic in the period 1998–2016, using Phe362Tyr and nine tightly linked SNPs. Our results showed that the Phe362Tyr mutation is strongly linked to lice survival following chemical treatment on farms located throughout the North Atlantic, demonstrating for the first time, that this mutation represents the primary mechanism for organophosphate resistance in salmon lice across the North Atlantic. Additionally, we observed multiple and diverse high frequency haplotypes linked with the allele conveying resistance to organophosphate. We, therefore, conclude that Phe362Tyr is not a de novo mutation, but probably existed in salmon lice before the introduction of organophosphates in commercial aquaculture.