Toxicity of acidified chitosan for cultured rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Graham Bullock, Vicki Blazer, Scott Tsukuda, Steve Summerfelt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Chitosan is a deacetylation product of chitin. It is used as a flocculent for sewage and brewery wastes, and as a chelator of heavy metals. In aquaculture, chitosan has been used as an immuno-stimulant for protection against bacterial diseases in fish, for controlled release of vaccines, and as a diet supplement. Chitosan has generally been considered to be nontoxic to animals, but when it was dissolved in acetic acid and added to a culture system at 1.0 ppm to remove organic solids, we found acute toxicity to rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). In controlled experiments to determine the extent of toxicity, we found that trout died after several hours exposure to 0.75 ppm and died in 24 h after exposure to 0.075 ppm. Exposure to 0.038 ppm resulted in mortality after 6 days exposure, while exposure to 0.019 ppm resulted in no mortality after 14 days exposure. Histological examination of gills, skin, muscle, and internal organs indicated significant and consistent pathological changes only in gills. Lifting of lamellar epithelium, hypertrophy and hyperplasia of lamellar epithelial cells occurred in trout exposed to 0.019 and 0.038 ppm. In trout exposed to 0.75 or 0.075 ppm chitosan, large areas of lamellar fusion were observed. These results show that soluble acidified chitosan is highly toxic to rainbow trout even at low concentrations. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-280
Number of pages8
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - May 25 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aquatic Science


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