Emerging diseases

Myxozoan spores under the microscope

Spores (0.02mm in diameter) of Tetracapsuloides bryosalmonae, the myxozoan that causes PKD

Principal Investigator

Prof Beth Okamura

Project summary

  • Focus: investigating the drivers of Proliferative Kidney Disease (PKD) in salmon and trout 

We are examining how bryozoans act as a source of a disease in salmon and trout that is increasing in prevalence and severity as a result of environmental change.

Myxozoans are a group of parasites that live inside the bodies of their hosts. They have a complex life cycle, exploiting both vertebrate and invertebrate hosts. The myxozoanTetracapsuloides bryosalmonae develops in freshwater bryozoans and causes adevastating disease called Proliferative Kidney Disease (PKD) when transmitted to salmon and trout hosts.

PKD is emerging as a serious disease in wild and farmed fish populations as a result of environmental change. 

We are investigating the drivers of PKD by:

  • characterising bryozoan populations and the dynamics of the myxozoan parasite within this host
  • establishing risk factors associated with disease prevalence, burden in bryozoans and disease transmission to fish

A second project uses molecular tools to sample myxozoan diversity and distribution to determine what other fish diseases may be associated with myxozoans that develop in bryozoans.

Swollen kidney of fish with PKD

Swollen kidney of fish with Proliferative Kidney Disease (PKD)

Museum staff


Supported by


We are exploring new sources of food, predicting the spread of disease and finding scarce elements

Invertebrate research

Our scientists are investigating the taxonomy, systematics and biodiversity of groups of invertebrates

Zoology collections

Our zoology collection has 29 million animal specimens and is rich in voucher, type and historical specimens