invasive microbes

MAISRC focuses its research efforts on species that have been prioritized based on their proximity to Minnesota, pathway of spread, and impact. This list of high risk/high priority species is updated annually with the help of a 9-member inter-organizational Technical Committee (MTC) and with input from the Center’s Advisory Board and the Center’s faculty members.

Active research is underway at MAISRC on many of these species. We will expand our research to additional priority species as funding and partnership opportunities become available.

MAISRC high-priority species:

The following species are considered high-priority because they fall into one or more of the following categories: species that generally harm multiple species; pathogens that cause high mortality or morbidity; species with high economic impact; or species that can transform ecosystems.

  • Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia virus (VHSv)
  • Baitfish viruses
  • Heterosporis
  • Didymosphenia geminata
  • Piscirickettsia salmonis
  • Spring viremia of carp virus (SVCV)
  • Cyprinid Herpes Virus-3 (CyHV-3)

Species currently being researched at MAISRC:


Heterosporis, which is caused by the microsporidian parasite Heterosporis sutherlanda, is known to affect 15 species of freshwater fish, including walleye and yellow perch. The small, microscopic spores of this parasite live inside of the muscle cells of their fish host and liquefy the muscle tissue. It can spread by moving through infected fish or contaminated water.

At MAISRC, field and laboratory research is underway to estimate the prevalence of the disease in important fish populations, the effect that it has on the endurance and fitness of the host, and potential long-term and seasonal infection variability. Learn more . . .


Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia

Viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) affects 34 species of fish, including walleye and bass. Its emergence has resulted in large-scale mass mortality events throughout the eastern Great Lakes and cost millions of dollars in management efforts. The virus is considered to be the most significant freshwater fish health threat in the world and has a history of large-scale fish kills. It is transmitted fish-to-fish from close contact of contaminated water or reproduction.

MAISRC is a leader in Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia virus research and outreach efforts focused on early detection and prevention. Learn more . . .