School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-5000

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Bassem Allam

Dr Mark Fast, Assistant Professor

Mycobacteriosis in Long Island striped bass and bluefish populations
Funding agency: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Over the past decade the Atlantic State estuarine/marine populations of striped bass (Morone saxatalis) are occurring at record highs. Surveys within and around the Chesapeaks Bay, have shown a strikingly high prevalence of mycobacteria infections in striped bass, approaching 80% in >6 yr old fish. As striped bass from LI watersheds co-mingle with the Chesapeake populations along the Atlantic Coast it is of concern that we currently have no information of the incidence of this bacterial infection in LI populations. Since several of the mycobacterial species isolated from striped bass have zoonotic potential, a better understanding of this bacterial disease and its hosts’ is important, both from a local ecology and human health perspective.


In mammals it appears that an early interferon response to mycobacterial infection can lead to healing. Other work has shown, that an effective Th1 limits bacterial growth and pathology but does not eliminate the pathogen. The importance of interleukin-1 and neutrophil involvement, also suggests that a rapid inflammatory reaction to Mycobacterial spp. is imperative to prevent bacterial infection from further development and to maintain infection at a low enough level that does not chronically stimulate inflammatory reactions that lead to granulomatous lesions.


At present, we are sampling both juvenile and adult striped bass and bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix) in order to determine the prevelance of this disease in local (Long Island Sound, Hudson River) populations. This work includes a collaboration with Dr. John Jacobs at the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory, Maryland, to characterize the host response to mycobacteria under different conditions, using immunological gene quantification. We currently possess several qPCR inflammatory gene assays for striped bass and through our collaboration with the Cooperative Oxford Lab (John Jacobs) will begin to better characterize the responses involved in mycobacterial infection, through lab-based infection trials.

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Last update: June 2010