Comparison of antibodies in marine fish from clean and polluted waters of the New York Bight: relative levels against 36 bacteria

Appl Environ Microbiol. 1979 Aug;38(2):248-57. doi: 10.1128/aem.38.2.248-257.1979.


Fish from polluted waters are subject to increased prevalence of disease. Because they respond to bacterial pathogens by producing serum antibodies, it was possible to construct a seasonal serological record in three fish species from clean and polluted waters of the New York Bight. Antibody levels were determined by testing sera for agglutinating activity against 36 strains of bacteria. Evaluation of 5,100 antibody titrations showed the following. During warm months, summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) from the polluted area had significantly higher antibody levels and antibody to a greater diversity of bacteria than fish from the unpolluted area. Weakfish (Cynoscion regalis) from the same polluted area shared with summer flounder raised titers to many bacteria. The greatest proportion of raised titers was against Vibrio species, although prominent titers were also seen against Aeromonas salmonicida and Haemophilus piscium, bacteria usually associated with diseases in freshwater but not marine fish. Differences between polluted and clean waters were not as evident in winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus) during cold months. This could be due, in part, to reduced antibody production at colder temperatures. The data illustrate the usefulness of the serum antibody record in identifying environmental exposure to bacteria in marine fish and indicate that the polluted New York Bight apex has increased levels and diversity of bacteria during warm months.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / analysis*
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Bacteria / immunology
  • Fishes / immunology*
  • New York
  • Seasons
  • Seawater
  • Species Specificity
  • Temperature
  • Water Microbiology*
  • Water Pollution*


  • Antibodies, Bacterial