Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

The rise of the rosette agent in Europe: an epidemiological enigma.

Abstract

International biodiversity assessments often overlook the role of emerging infectious pathogens in the decline of freshwater fish populations despite the many examples of emerging diseases in other more visible taxa on a global scale. Whilst the introduction of the rosette agent Sphaerothecum destruens in Europe remained an epidemiological enigma, recent findings have shown that this parasite arrived in Europe with the introduction of the healthy carrier Pseudorasbora parva from China nearly 60 years ago and its emergence went unnoticed for over 45 years despite its severe impact on European fish biodiversity. Recent reports on the host and pathogen phylogeny point towards an ancient host-pathogen co-evolution with direct implications on disease risk. Here, we postulate that the observed rapid population decline of native fish species following their infection with virulent strains of S. destruens has underpinned the rapid establishment of P. parva populations during the invasion process. We reviewed the existing evidence supporting the claim of an S. destruens' emergence worldwide and also suggest that the origin of the US strains is to be found among contaminated Asian Oncorhynchus tshawytscha living in sympatry with native Asian P. parva population. Finally, several important preventative steps are suggested as a way to manage the impact of S. destruens on local fish communities.