In this study, the effect of temperature on Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) stress and immune response to the ectoparasitic salmon lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) was investigated. We found that infestation affected the expression of several immune and wound healing transcripts in the skin especially at the site of lice attachment compared to un-infested control fish. Moreover, expression patterns in the skin of infested fish suggest that host immune responses towards salmon lice are impaired at low temperatures. However, reduced lice infestation success and survival at the lowest investigated temperatures suggest that cold water temperatures are more detrimental to the lice than their fish hosts. Finally, temperature affected the stress response of the fish and infected fish had a higher increase in cortisol levels in response to handling (a stressor) than un-infested controls.
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