Original Article

Marine Biotechnology

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 155-166

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Genomic Resources for Sea Lice: Analysis of ESTs and Mitochondrial Genomes

  • Motoshige YasuikeAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of VictoriaAquatic Genomics Research Center, National Research Institute of Fisheries Science, Fisheries Research Agency
  • , Jong LeongAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Victoria
  • , Stuart G. JantzenAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Victoria
  • , Kristian R. von SchalburgAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Victoria
  • , Frank NilsenAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Bergen
  • , Simon R. M. JonesAffiliated withPacific Biological Station, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • , Ben F. KoopAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Victoria Email author 


Sea lice are common parasites of both farmed and wild salmon. Salmon farming constitutes an important economic market in North America, South America, and Northern Europe. Infections with sea lice can result in significant production losses. A compilation of genomic information on different genera of sea lice is an important resource for understanding their biology as well as for the study of population genetics and control strategies. We report on over 150,000 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from five different species (Pacific Lepeophtheirus salmonis (49,672 new ESTs in addition to 14,994 previously reported ESTs), Atlantic L. salmonis (57,349 ESTs), Caligus clemensi (14,821 ESTs), Caligus rogercresseyi (32,135 ESTs), and Lernaeocera branchialis (16,441 ESTs)). For each species, ESTs were assembled into complete or partial genes and annotated by comparisons to known proteins in public databases. In addition, whole mitochondrial (mt) genome sequences of C. clemensi (13,440 bp) and C. rogercresseyi (13,468 bp) were determined and compared to L. salmonis. Both nuclear and mtDNA genes show very high levels of sequence divergence between these ectoparastic copepods suggesting that the different species of sea lice have been in existence for 37–113 million years and that parasitic association with salmonids is also quite ancient. Our ESTs and mtDNA data provide a novel resource for the study of sea louse biology, population genetics, and control strategies. This genomic information provides the material basis for the development of a 38K sea louse microarray that can be used in conjunction with our existing 44K salmon microarray to study host–parasite interactions at the molecular level. This report represents the largest genomic resource for any copepod species to date.


Lepeophtheirus salmonis Caligus clemensi C. rogercresseyi Lernaeocera branchialis Expressed sequence tags (ESTs) Mitochondrial genome