Identification and Description of the Key Molecular Components of the Egg Strings of the Salmon Louse (Lepeophtheirus salmonis)
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The salmon louse Lepeophtheirus salmonis is a parasite of Atlantic salmon and other salmonids. Every year, it causes high costs for the Norwegian aquaculture industry. While the morphology of the female genital tract has been described, knowledge of the molecular basis of reproduction is very limited. We identified nine genes which are expressed exclusively in the female cement gland, the organ responsible for cement production, which is used to hold the eggs together and keep them attached to their mother in egg strings. Six of these genes encode proteins with signal peptides and probably form the main component of the cement. Two other genes are peroxidases, which are probably important in the cement formation. The last gene is not similar to any known protein, but contains a transmembrane domain. A knockdown of all these genes leads to missing or deformed egg strings, preventing reproduction of the lice. The correct assemblage of the cement in the cement gland is essential for successful reproduction of salmon lice. Similar proteins seem to be present in other copepod species, as well.