In 1991 an epizootic of ichtyophoniasis in herring was recorded for the first time in waters around Denmark and Norway causing mass mortality. This Ph.D. study demonstrates how continuously successful subculturing of Ichthyophonus hoferi is possible only at alternating pH (between pH 3-4 and pH7). The morphology of I. hoferi at pH 3.5 and 7.0 was studied using light and scanning electron microscopy. At pH 3.5 only hyphal growth was seen while only growth of uni-to multinucleate spherical bodies was seen at pH 7. These findings were used to explain the lifecycle of this parasite.
The phylogenetic position of the genus Ichthyophonus was investigated using a combination of molecular analysis of the genomic DNA encoding the small subunit ribosomal RNA, ultra-structural features and biochemical data. These studies indicated that I. hoferi is not a member of the Fungi, but belongs to the protist Kingdom.
Feeding experiments with mice showed that I. hoferi is not a pathogen in mammals. However, the technological significance of I. hoferi infected fish fillets entering processing is severe due to soft texture, unfavourable flavour changes and discolorations of the fish products.