DAO 103:209-227 (2013)  -  doi:10.3354/dao02577

Validating the identity of Paramoeba invadens, the causative agent of recurrent mass mortality of sea urchins in Nova Scotia, Canada

Colette J. Feehan1,*,**, Jessica Johnson-Mackinnon1,**, Robert E. Scheibling1, Jean-Sèbastien Lauzon-Guay2, Alastair G. B. Simpson

1Biology Department, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2, Canada
2Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Institut Maurice-Lamontagne, Mont-Joli, Quebec G5H 3Z4, Canada
**These authors contributed equally to this work

ABSTRACT: Green sea urchins Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis along the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada, suffer mass mortalities from infection by the pathogenic amoeba Paramoeba invadens Jones, 1985. It has been speculated that P. invadens could be a form of Neoparamoeba pemaquidensis, a species associated with disease in S. droebachiensis and lobsters in the northeast USA. During a disease outbreak in fall 2011, we isolated amoebae from moribund urchins collected from 4 locations along ~200 km of coastline. In laboratory infection trials, we found that timing and rate of morbidity corresponded to that of similar experiments conducted in the early 1980s, when P. invadens was first identified. All isolates had a similar size and morphology to the original description, including an absence of microscales. Sequences of nuclear SSU rDNA show that disease was caused by one ‘species’ of amoeba across the range sampled. Phylogenetic analyses prove that P. invadens is not conspecific with N. pemaquidensis, but is a distinct species most closely related to N. branchiphila, a suspected pathogen of sea urchins Diadema aff. antillarum in the Canary Islands, Spain. Morphology and closest phylogenetic affinities suggest that P. invadens would be assignable to the genus Neoparamoeba; however, nuclear SSU rDNA trees show that Neoparamoeba and Paramoeba are phylogenetically inseparable. Therefore, we treat Neoparamoeba as a junior synonym of Paramoeba, with P. invadens retaining that name, and N. pemaquidensis and N. aestuarina reverting to their original names (P. pemaquidensis and P. aestuarina), and with new combinations for N. branchiphila Dykova et al., 2005, and N. perurans Young et al., 2007, namely P. branchiphila comb. nov. and P. perurans comb. nov.

KEY WORDS: Paramoeba invadens · Neoparamoeba · Paramoebiasis · Sea urchin · Parasite · SSU rDNA · Disease

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Cite this article as: Feehan CJ, Johnson-Mackinnon J, Scheibling RE, Lauzon-Guay JS, Simpson AGB (2013) Validating the identity of Paramoeba invadens, the causative agent of recurrent mass mortality of sea urchins in Nova Scotia, Canada. Dis Aquat Org 103:209-227

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