Marine Biology

, 163:170 | Cite as

Characterization of three novel species of Labyrinthulomycota isolated from ochre sea stars (Pisaster ochraceus)

  • Rebecca FioRito
  • Celeste Leander
  • Brian Leander
Original paper


The Labyrinthulomycota (Stramenopiles) is an enigmatic group of saprobic protists that play an important role as marine decomposers, yet whose phylogenetic relationships and ecological roles remain to be clearly understood. We investigated whether members of this group were present on ochre sea stars (Pisaster ochraceus) showing symptoms of sea star wasting disease. Although largely decomposers, some members of the Labyrinthulomycota are also known to be opportunistic pathogens of animals such as abalone, clams and flatworms and cause severe wasting diseases in eelgrass populations worldwide. Three new isolates of Labyrinthulomycota were discovered from the tissues of P. ochraceus collected at Bamfield Marine Research Centre (48°83.6′N, 125°13.6′W) and Reed Point Marina (49°29.1′N, 122°88.3′W) in British Columbia. The new isolates were kept in culture for several months and characterized at the morphological level and with 18S rDNA sequences. Molecular phylogenetic analyses demonstrated that each of the three new isolates clustered within a different subclade of the Labyrinthulomycota: (1) Oblongichytrium, (2) Aplanochytrium and (3) an early diverging clade of environmental DNA sequences. These data enabled us to establish one new genus and three new species of Labyrinthulomycota: Stellarchytrium dubum gen. et sp. nov., Oblongichytrium porteri sp. nov. and Aplanochytrium blankum sp. nov. This is the first account of the Labyrinthulomycota isolated from the tissues of sea stars with a potential link to sea star wasting disease reported for P. Ochraceus.


Molecular Phylogenetic Analysis Dermal Tissue Contractile Vacuole Thraustochytrium Dense Clump 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank all current and former members of the Leander lab for their help, support and encouragement in this process. A special thanks to Sarah Sparrman, Greg Gravelis and Kevin Wakeman for their help in genetic and imaging techniques. This research was supported by grants to BSL from the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC 2014-05258) and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Program in Integrated Microbial Biodiversity.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national and institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Institution University of British Columbia, Vancouver and Bam field where the studies were conducted.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Botany and ZoologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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