A new genus and new species of microbothriid monogenean (Platyhelminthes) with a functionally enigmatic reproductive system, parasitic on the skin and mouth lining of the largetooth sawfish, Pristis microdon, in Australia
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Dermopristis paradoxus gen. et sp. nov., a microbothriid monogenean parasite from the skin and mouth lining of the largetooth sawfish, Pristis microdon (Elasmobranchii, Pristidae) in Australia, is described. The parasite has 2 juxtaposed testes and differs from other microbothriids in possessing a unique and unusual terminal male reproductive tract comprising a proximal and a distal tube, the latter with a conspicuous opening on the ventral surface and lacking a recognisable male copulatory organ. The smalltooth sawfish, P. pectinata, also has a skin-parasitic microbothriid, Dermophthirioides pristidis Cheung et Nigrelli, 1983, but this parasite species has a prominent copulatory papilla. Dermopristis paradoxus also has parallel ridges with broad tops running in a roughly transverse direction across the ventral surface of the body. The ventral ridges are prominent from the level of the pharynx to the posterior region of the body. The function of the ridges is unknown. Reproductive biology, attachment and feeding in D. paradoxus are discussed. In the absence of unmounted parasite specimens for sectioning, a mounted specimen of D. paradoxus was released from the slide and successfully processed to provide serial, stained, resin sections. This useful technique is recommended to provide anatomical information in situations where only specimens on slides are available for study.
KeywordsPlatyhelminthes Monogenea Microbothriidae Dermopristis paradoxus gen. et sp. nov. Dermophthirioides pristidis sawfish Pristis spp. reproductive biology functional morphology
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