Resistance towards deltamethrin (DMT) in the crustacean ectoparasite Lepeophtheirus salmonis (Caligidae) is a problem on fish farms lining the North Atlantic Ocean. Two Norwegian strains with different susceptibility towards DMT were crossed in the parental generation (P0), females from a sensitive strain were crossed with males from a resistant strain and vice versa. Individual susceptibility towards DMT was assessed in the second filial generation (F2). DMT resistance was only found in F2 descendants when the P0 females were from the resistant strain, pointing to maternal inheritance. Since maternal inheritance might be linked to the mitochondrial (mt) genome, the nucleotide sequences and the gene expressions of mt-genes were analysed. Twenty non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were identified in mt-transcripts from resistant F2 parasites, including SNPs in two cytochrome C oxidase subunits (COX1 and COX3) and two subunits of the NADH dehydrogenase complex (ND1 and ND5) previously linked to DMT resistance in the salmon louse. Differential expression analysis between the sensitive and resistant strain revealed strain effect in seven out of twelve mt-genes. The current study also show that DNA fragmentation (indicating apoptosis) was affected by DMT exposure in skeletal muscle tissue and that resistant parasites undergo less apoptosis than sensitive parasites.
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