Evaluation of autofluorescentEimeria maximaoocysts as a potential indicator of non-viability when enumerating oocysts

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Abstract

Aging, poor oxygenation, or improper storage temperature can lead to variable Eimeria oocyst viability, which is not readily assessed microscopically. Under fluorescent microscopy, some aged Eimeria maxima (EM) oocysts were strongly autofluorescent (AF) within the oocystoplasm and sporocysts, whereas others were distinctly non-fluorescent, leading to the hypothesis that non-viable oocysts may be detectible using this simple approach. Using accelerated aging conditions at 45°C, two experiments were conducted to evaluate variable percentages of autofluorescent EM oocysts on body weight gain (BWG), lesion scores (LS), and total oocyst shedding (OS) per bird. Through oral gavage, EM oocysts were administered on d10, whereas LS and BWG were determined d5 post-inoculation. Experiment 1 groups consisted of non-challenged controls (n = 15), or 25,000 EM exhibiting 12.8% (n = 14), 61.1% (n = 10), or 93.3% (n = 10) autofluorescence. BWG in 12.8% AF group was lower (P = 0.054) than non-challenged control. LS were higher (P < 0.05) in 61.1% and 12.8% AF groups as compared to non-challenged control and 93.3% AF groups. Experiment 2 groups consisted of non-challenged controls (LS n = 20/BWG n = 40), or 22,500 EM exhibiting 7% AF (LS n = 20/BWG n = 40), 80.6% AF (LS n = 19/BWG n = 39), or 99% AF (LS n = 19/BWG n = 39). BWG in 7% AF group was lower (P < 0.05) than non-challenged control and 99% AF groups. LS were higher (P < 0.05) in 80.6% and 7% AF groups as compared to non-challenged control and 99% AF groups. OS from d5-8 post-inoculation was determined for each of five replicates per group (n = 20/group; n = 4/replicate), with higher (P < 0.05) OS in 80.6% and 7% AF groups than in non-challenged control or 99% AF groups. Taken together, data indicate lower LS, higher BWG, and reduced OS with higher %AF oocysts, consistent with the hypothesis of lowered viable challenge with this EM isolate.

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