A New Deep-Sea Suctorian-Nematode Epibiosis (Loricophrya-Tricoma) from the Blanes Submarine Canyon (NW Mediterranean)
During a pluri-disciplinary study carried out within the frame of the Spanish research project DOS MARES, multicore samples were collected along the Blanes submarine canyon and its adjacent open slope to study the structure and dynamics of the meiofaunal organisms, mainly nematodes. Among the 5808 nematode individuals identified, only 190 of them belonged to the genus Tricoma (Desmoscolecidae), and only two harboured epibiont suctorian ciliates. The three specimens were located near the tail of the basibionts. A careful examination of the ciliates revealed that they were suctorians, which are here described as a new species of Loricophrya, namely L. mediterranea sp. nov. The new species is characterized by having a conical, slightly elongated lorica, narrowing towards posterior end; an anterior end inward curved, surrounding the lorica opening; a body placed near the lorica opening, occupying 1/3 of the lorica length, 4–8 capitate tentacles, and a peripheral, oval to sausage-shaped macronucleus. Our findings represent the first known report of an association with a deep-sea species of Tricoma, and the first record in the Mediterranean Sea, for a species of Loricophrya. The significance of the relationships between suctorian ciliates and their host in extreme environments such as deep-sea submarine canyons is discussed.
KeywordsEpibiosis Nematode Tricoma Suctorian ciliate Loricophrya mediterranea sp. nov. Blanes canyon Deep-sea NW Mediterranean Sea
This paper is a contribution of SR and DM to the Research Projects CTM2010-21810-C03-03 and CTM2013-43287-P, funded by the Spanish National Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation Plan of the Ministry of Economy of Spain, and to the Consolidated Research Group on Marine Benthic Ecology of the Generalitat de Catalunya (2014SGR120).
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