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Alternate spore stages of Myxobilatus gasterostei, a myxosporean parasite of three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) and oligochaetes (Nais communis)

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Abstract

Two spore stages in the life cycle of Myxobilatus gasterostei, a ubiquitous myxosporean parasite of three-spined sticklebacks, were identified by matching small subunit ribosomal RNA gene sequences of actinospores from a worm with myxospores from fish. A Nais communis oligochaete collected in the Willamette River, Oregon, USA was found to produce a triactinomyxon-type actinospore which was distinguishable from previous records by its large size (∼500 μm across) and number of germ cells (∼500). Its small subunit ribosomal RNA gene sequence was >99% similar to M. gasterostei from Europe. Two of ten sticklebacks from the Willamette had renal infections with Myxobilatus myxospores which were smaller than the type description of M. gasterostei Parisi (1912) but were consistent with subsequent records. Primer Mg1097r was designed to selectively amplify M. gasterostei in the presence of another common kidney myxosporean, Sphaerospora elegans. DNA sequences of spores from the fish were identical to each other and were 99.8% similar over 2,112 nt to the spores from the oligochaete. The 0.2% sequence divergence comprised polymorphisms at five loci, which suggested that multiple alleles were present in the parasite population. This is the first Myxobilatus species shown to have two spore stages in its life cycle and to infect an invertebrate. The infected oligochaete underwent paratomic fission to produce two daughter worms with parasite stages in their intestinal epithelia, which suggested that M. gasterostei may be sustained and dispersed within the invertebrate host population.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Leyla Arsan (OSU) for field sampling of worms; Matt Longshaw (CEFAS, UK) for supplying a translation of Parisi (1912); Sascha Hallett (OSU) for Myxobilatus information from her German work and critical input on the manuscript; Stan Gregory (OSU) for suggesting sites where sticklebacks could be found in the Willamette basin. SA received support from a University of Queensland Postgraduate Research Scholarship. DNA sequencing was supported by a grant from the Oregon State University General Research Fund.

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Correspondence to Jerri L. Bartholomew.

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Atkinson, S.D., Bartholomew, J.L. Alternate spore stages of Myxobilatus gasterostei, a myxosporean parasite of three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) and oligochaetes (Nais communis). Parasitol Res 104, 1173–1181 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-008-1308-6

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