The salmon louse Lepeophtheirus salmonis (Copepods, Caligida) is a marine ectoparasite infecting salmonid fishes in the northern hemisphere. At present, salmon lice infections are the most severe disease problem in the salmon farming industry causing significant economic losses. Due to development of resistance towards available chemotherapeutants, it is clear that new chemotherapeutants or non-chemical control methods are essential to manage the parasite in the future. The TOR signaling pathway is present in all metazoans and is a major regulator of cellular activity according to nutrient availability. In this study, we identified the TOR pathway genes in salmon louse; LsTSC1, LsTSC2, LsRheb, LsTOR, LsRaptor and LsRictor. RNA interference mediated gene silencing was performed to elucidate the functional role of each member of the pathway. Our results show that interference of the TOR signaling pathway either directly or indirectly inhibits many biological processes including egg maturation. In addition, the effect of gene knock-down results in more comprehensive physiological defects when targeting TORC1 and the upstream regulator Rheb. This is the first report on the TOR pathway in the salmon louse and that our research contributes to the basic knowledge of the parasite that could lead to development of novel treatment methods.
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