Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 629–637 | Cite as

How far may life venture? Observations on the harpacticoid copepod Phyllognathopus viguieri under extreme stress conditions

  • Francesca CapezzutoEmail author
  • Diana Maria Paola Galassi
  • Francesco Ancona
  • Porzia Maiorano
  • Gianfranco D’Onghia


The authors report the first finding of living specimens of the harpacticoid copepod Phyllognathopus viguieri (Maupas, 1892) in the gut content of the teleost fish Merluccius merluccius (Linnaeus, 1758), and their extraordinary viability after the M. merluccius specimens had been stored at − 20 °C for more than 1 month and their stomachs been preserved in 70% ethanol for a further month. After their survival for such a long time in such harsh conditions, P. viguieri, after a few minutes of total immobilization, began to swim actively and fast, and after being reared in freshwater or seawater in Petri dishes under starvation, these animals reproduced, and the presence of nauplii, copepodids and adults which completed the whole life cycle in 3/5 days was observed in freshwater and seawater, respectively. The occurrence of P. viguieri in the stomach of a true marine demersal fish species enlarges the known habitat types the species may stably colonize. The potential for dormancy in fertilized adult females to escape adverse environmental conditions is hypothesized.


Phyllognathopus viguieri Merluccius merluccius Mediterranean Sea 



This study benefited from data recorded during the MEDITS EU project.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All the authors of the paper, Francesca Capezzuto, Diana Maria Paola Galassi, Francesco Ancona, Porzia Maiorano and Gianfranco D’Onghia declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights

All applicable international, national and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Bari Aldo Moro, LRU CoNISMaBariItaly
  2. 2.Department of Life, Health and Environmental SciencesUniversity of L’AquilaL’AquilaItaly

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