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Open Access Research

Sphaeromyxids form part of a diverse group of myxosporeans infecting the hepatic biliary systems of a wide range of host organisms

Árni Kristmundsson1 and Mark A Freeman2*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute for Experimental Pathology, University of Iceland, Keldur v/Vesturlandsveg, Reykjavik, 112, Iceland

2 Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, 50603, Malaysia

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Parasites & Vectors 2013, 6:51  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-6-51

Published: 1 March 2013

Abstract

Background

Approximately 40 species of Sphaeromyxa have been described, all of which are coelozoic parasites from gall bladders of marine fish. They are unique amongst the myxosporeans as they have polar filaments that are flat and folded instead of being tubular and spirally wound. This unusual feature was used as a subordinal character to erect the suborder Sphaeromyxina, which contains one family, the Sphaeromyxidae, and a single genus Sphaeromyxa.

Methods

In the present study, we examine eelpout from the genus Lycodes from Iceland for the presence of myxosporean parasites in the gall bladder and perform morphological and DNA studies.

Results

A novel myxosporean, Sphaeromyxa lycodi n. sp., was identified in the gall bladders of five of the six species of Lycodes examined, with a prevalence ranging from 29 - 100%. The coelozoic plasmodia are large, polysporous and contain disporic pansporoblasts and mature spores which are arcuate. The pyriform polar capsules encase long and irregularly folded ribbon-like polar filaments. Each spore valve has two distinct ends and an almost 180° twist along the relatively indistinct suture line. The single sporoplasm is granular with two nuclei. Sphaeromyxa lycodi is phylogenetically related to other arcuate sphaeromyxids and is reproducibly placed with all known sphaeromyxids and forms part of a robustly supported clade of numerous myxosporean genera which infect the hepatic biliary systems of a wide range of hosts.

Conclusions

Sphaeromyxa lycodi is a common gall bladder myxosporean in eelpout of the genus Lycodes from Northern Iceland. It has characteristics typical of the genus and develops arcuate spores. Molecular phylogenetic analyses confirm that sphaeromyxids form a monophyletic group, subdivided into straight and arcuate spore forms, within the hepatic biliary clade that infect a wide range of freshwater associated animals. The ancestral spore form for the hepatic biliary clade was probably a Chloromyxum morphotype; however, sphaeromyxids have more recently evolved from an ancestor with a spindle-shaped Myxidium spore form. We recommend that the suborder Sphaeromyxina is suppressed; however, we retain the family Sphaeromyxidae and place it in the suborder Variisporina.

Keywords:
Sphaeromyxa; Lycodes; Gall bladder; Myxosporean; Myxidium; Hepatic biliary group; Chloromyxum