Systematic Parasitology

, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 1–14 | Cite as

Molecular methods clarify morphometric variation in triactinomyxon spores (Myxozoa) released from different oligochaete hosts

  • Sascha L. Hallett
  • Stephen D. Atkinson
  • Christer Erséus
  • Mansour El-Matbouli


Thirty-nine freshwater tubificid oligochaetes were isolated, each of which harboured a triactinomyxon infection. Spore characteristics include the typical triactinomyxon anchor shape, eight germ cells within the sporoplasm and three unequal (two long and one shorter) caudal processes with square tips. Despite morphological similarities between the spores from the different hosts, their morphometrical data varied considerably; significantly, the ranges of dimensions of the smallest and largest exemplars were mutually exclusive. In order to ascertain the true number of spore types present, molecular methods were employed. Samples of waterborne spores, including the smallest and largest representatives, were selected from 11 host oligochaetes (all Tubifex tubifex Müller) and a nested PCR-RFLP `riboprint' analysis performed. The small subunit ribosomal DNA gene (18S rDNA) was targetted and amplified through two rounds of PCR, then digested with the restriction enzymes Dde I and Hha I. The resultant major cleavage patterns produced by both enzymes indicated a single triactinomyxon form; however, the pattern of several less intense bands varied between the samples. From a subset of five samples drawn from across the full spectrum of spore sizes, a 327 bp region near the 5′ was sequenced and was identical for all five samples. Comparison of this 327 bp region with that of 12 other triactinomyxons in GenBank showed 68.7–96.9% similarity (at least 9 base differences). A further 469 bp generated for each of the smallest, largest and mid-range (= reference) spore samples was identical also. The reference sample was sequenced further to yield 1,554 bp of 18S rDNA (GenBank accession number AY162270); comparison with other Myxozoa indicated this sequence was novel. The morphometrics of our triactinomyxon did not correlate with any published description. The morphometrical variation exhibited by spores of the triactinomyxon type in this study raises questions about the validity of using morphometrical data to distinguish spore types and suggests that there could be taxonomic redundancy in the diversity of actinosporeans recorded in the literature. The additional information provided by molecular data in this study was pivotal in the clarification of morphometrical variation exhibited by morphologically similar triactinomyxon spores released from different oligochaete hosts.


Morphometrical Data Accession Number AY162270 Spore Type Morphometrical Variation Caudal Process 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sascha L. Hallett
    • 1
  • Stephen D. Atkinson
    • 1
  • Christer Erséus
    • 2
  • Mansour El-Matbouli
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Zoology, Fish Biology and Fish DiseasesUniversity of MunichMunichGermany
  2. 2.Department of Invertebrate ZoologySwedish Museum of Natural HistoryStockholmSweden

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