Polar Biology

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 637–644 | Cite as

Observation by electron microscopy of a gregarine parasite of Antarctic krill: its histological aspects and ecological explanations

  • Kunio T. Takahashi
  • So Kawaguchi
  • Tatsuki Toda
Original Paper


Antarctic krill are parasitized by gregarines (Phylum Apicomplexa, Class Sporozoea, Order Eugregarinida), which were observed in this study by light, scanning, and transmission electron microscopy. Eighty seven percentage of the krill examined (n = 93) were infected with the parasites in the cephalin stage, which were regularly found in the hind-gut epithelium of their host. Cephalins were found attached to the epithelium, and then were liberated into the intestinal lumen. The gamont stage, which follows the cephalin stage, was found in the intestinal lumen, as well as the diverticulum of mid-gut gland. However, gamonts found in the mid-gut gland were considerably larger and elongated in comparison with those in the intestinal lumen. Gamonts in the diverticulum appear to damage microvilli, which are involved in the uptake of digested nutrients and secretion of various enzymes. Therefore, elevated infestation of this parasite in the mid-gut gland may have a significant impact on the nutritional state of the Antarctic krill host.


Antarctic krill Gregarine Parasite Pathogenic impact Large gamont Southern Ocean 



We thank the officers and crew of the RSV Aurora Australis, Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions for their kind assistance during the cruise. We are grateful to Drs. Graham W. Hosie, Stephen Nicol, Anna McEldowney, Gerry Nash, and Harvey J. Marchant, Australian Antarctic Division, Mikio Naganobu and Taro Ichii, National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries, Mr. Masaki Kobayashi, Soka University, for various advises and supports throughout this study. The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science also is acknowledged for financial support during this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kunio T. Takahashi
    • 1
    • 3
  • So Kawaguchi
    • 1
  • Tatsuki Toda
    • 2
  1. 1.Australian Antarctic DivisionKingstonAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of EngineeringSoka UniversityHachiojiJapan
  3. 3.National Institute of Polar ResearchItabashi-kuJapan

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