Mycobacteriosis in aquatic invertebrates: A review of its emergence

Nadav Davidovich, Danny Morick, Francesca Carella

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Mycobacteriosis is a chronic bacterial disease reported in aquatic and terrestrial animals, including humans. The disease affects a wide range of cultured and wild organisms worldwide. Mycobacteriosis is well-known in aquatic vertebrates (e.g., finfish, marine mammals), while in the last few years, reports of its presence in aquatic invertebrates have been on the rise, for both freshwater and marine species. The number of cases is likely to increase as a result of increased awareness, surveillance and availability of diagnostic methods. Domestication of wild aquatic species and the intensification of modern aquaculture are also leading to an increase in the number of reported cases. Moreover, climate changes are affecting fresh and marine aquatic ecosystems. The increasing reports of mycobacteriosis in aquatic invertebrates may also be influenced by global climate warming, which could contribute to the microbes’ development and survival rates, pathogen transmission and host susceptibility. Several species of the genus Mycobacterium have been diagnosed in aquatic invertebrates; a few of them are significant due to their wide host spectrum, economic impact in aquaculture, and zoonotic potential. The impact of mycobacteriosis in aquatic invertebrates is probably underestimated, and there is currently no effective treatment other than facility disinfection. In this review, we provide an overview of the diversity of mycobacterial infections reported in molluscs, crustaceans, cnidarians, echinoderms and sponges. We highlight important issues relating to its pathological manifestation, diagnosis and zoonotic considerations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1249
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
Issue number8
StatePublished - 17 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

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  • Aquatic invertebrate
  • Bacteria
  • Mycobacteriosis
  • Mycobacterium
  • Review
  • Zoonotic microorganisms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Virology


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