Under laboratory conditions, 2 modes of transmission of Eustrongylides ignotus (Nematoda: Dioctophymatoidea) to fish were identified. Eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) became infected after ingestion of either eggs of E. ignotus containing first-stage larvae or aquatic oligochaetes (Limnodrilus hoffmeisteri) containing third-stage larvae of E. ignotus. After removal from the uterus of gravid E. ignotus females and incubation for 17–28 days, depending on temperature, it was found that parasite eggs contained first-stage larvae that were infective to fish and oligochaetes. Larvae developed to the third stage in oligochaetes and were infective to fish 35–77 days postinfection (PI) and when fed to fish, developed to the fourth stage between 127 and 184 days PI. Eggs containing first-stage larvae fed directly to fish developed to the fourth stage between 84 and 105 days PI. The amount of time for development from the undifferentiated egg to the fourth-stage larva was 78–156 days shorter when fish ingested eggs containing first-stage larvae than when fish ingested oligochaetes containing third-stage larvae. Three species of large piscivorous fish, including black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus), largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), and warmouth (Lepomis gulosus), were fed mosquitofish containing fourth-stage larvae. At necropsy, live E. ignotus larvae were recovered from all 3 species. Several fish had multiple infections after ingesting >1 larva, indicating that bioaccumulation of the parasite in the food chain may occur.
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