Characterisation of Australian freshwater fish immune systems and their response to immunomodulators

Harford, A 2004, Characterisation of Australian freshwater fish immune systems and their response to immunomodulators, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Medical Sciences, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Characterisation of Australian freshwater fish immune systems and their response to immunomodulators
Author(s) Harford, A
Year 2004
Abstract The Murray-Darling basin is the largest river system in Australia with significant economic, social, recreational and cultural value. It supplies water for drinking and agriculture to a large inland area of the eastern and southern states of Australia. It is also the ultimate sink for many environmental contaminants that result from human activities within the catchment.

Aquatic organisms live intimately with their environment and may be continuously exposed to these contaminants through the water column or the food chain. Some chemicals are bioaccumulated and biomagnified in tissue to reach high body burdens. Populations of native fish species within the Murray-Darling basin have been in decline since human settlement, yet little is known about the lethal and sublethal effects of environmental pollutants on native freshwater fish and many of the Australian water quality guidelines are based on data from exotic fish species.

Researchers have correlated levels of pollution with immune dysfunction and an increased incidence of disease amongst wildlife populations. Many of the pollutants of the Murray-Darling basin have known immunotoxicity in both mammals and exotic fish species. The immune system is a sensitive target organ because, in order to maintain integrity, it requires constant renewal through the rapid proliferation and differentiation of cells. Efforts to increase numbers of native fish in the wild have led to an aquaculture industry that produces fingerlings for the restocking of waterways. In more recent years, this industry has matured and now produces table-size native freshwater fish for local and international markets. Although the industry has researched areas of reproduction, nutrition and stocking, there is little understanding of the immunology or immunotoxicology of Australian freshwater fish. This research project investigated the immunology of three large native fish species (i.e. 2 Murray cod, golden perch and silver perch), which are the basis of the native freshwater aquaculture industry. Additionally, a small fish species native to the basin (i.e. crimsonspotted rainbowfish) was studied as an alternative to the use of large fish. Of the four species, Murray cod possessed characteristics that made it an excellent candidate for ecoimmunotoxicity testing.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Medical Sciences
Keyword(s) Native Australian freshwater fish
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