Methacarn preserves mucus integrity and improves visualization of amoebae in gills of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.). Journal of Fish Diseases. doi: 10.1111/jfd.12988
Two aqueous fixation methods (modified Davidson's solution and modified Davidson's solution with 2% (w/v) Alcian blue) were compared against two non‐aqueous fixation methods (methacarn solution and methacarn solution with 2% (w/v) Alcian blue) along with the standard buffered formalin fixation method to (a) improve preservation of the mucous coat on Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., gills and (b) to examine the interaction between the amoebae and mucus on the gill during an infection with amoebic gill disease. Aqueous fixatives demonstrated excellent cytological preservation but failed to deliver the preservation of the mucus when compared to the non‐aqueous‐based fixatives; qualitative and semi‐quantitative analysis revealed a greater preservation of the gill mucus using the non‐aqueous methacarn solution. A combination of this fixation method and an Alcian blue/Periodic acid–Schiff staining was tested in gills of Atlantic salmon infected with amoebic gill disease; lectin labelling was also used to confirm the mucus preservation in the methacarn‐fixed tissue. Amoebae were observed closely associated with the mucus demonstrating that the techniques employed for preservation of the mucous coat can indeed avoid the loss of potential mucus‐embedded parasites, thus providing a better understanding of the relationship between the mucus and parasite.