The role of semiochemicals in the behaviour and biology of Lepeophtheirus salmonis (Kroyer, 1837) : potential for control?
The role of semiochemicals in the behaviour and biology of Lepeophtheirus salmonis was investigated using a range of techniques. The potential use of semiochemicals in the behavioural ecology of mobile stages was examined using longitudinal monitoring and experimental manipulation of laboratory reared single cohort populations. The chronic and long term effects of separation from the host were also investigated using similar populations. The nature and chemosensory capability of the sense system of the parasite was assessed through morphological and ultrastructural studies. Finally, the nature of potential chemical stimuli during initial copepodid settlement, pair formation and mating, and host re-attachment of mobile stages, was examined using both in vitro and in vivo techniques. Longitudinal monitoring of populations created a model for mobile development and the timing and processes of pair formation and mating. There was evidence of a hierarchy of pair formation between female stages, periods of strong mate competition between males, and many factors within the processes were defined. Survival off the host was strongly related to the developmental stage and/or size of the louse; with adult females surviving for the longest and preadult I males for the shortest periods. The ability of adult males to re-attach and subsequently persist on the host was significantly reduced after only 72 hours of separation. Very few potential chemosensory setae were found on the appendages examined, the exception to this being the antennule. Two distinct populations of setae on the distal (14 setae) and proximal (27 setae) articles of the antennule demonstrated a wide range of morphology. The internal organisation, innervation and ultrastructure of these antennular setae was examined in detail. The setae could be divided into at least 6 distinct categories, when the internal data were combined with the external morphology.