DAO 75:61-72 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/dao075061

Enterospora canceri n. gen., n. sp., intranuclear within the hepatopancreatocytes of the European edible crab Cancer pagurus

G. D. Stentiford*, K. S. Bateman, M. Longshaw, S. W. Feist

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), Barrack Road, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8UB, UK

ABSTRACT: Only 1 genus (Nucleospora) within 1 family (Enterocytozoonidae) of the Microsporidia contains species that are parasitic within the nuclei of their host cells; to date, all described intranuclear Nucleospora spp. parasitise fish. This study describes the first intranuclear microsporidian parasite of an invertebrate, the European edible crab Cancer pagurus L. (Decapoda: Cancridae). Infected crabs displayed no obvious external signs, and maximum apparent prevalence of infection within a monthly sample was 3.45%. Infected hepatopancreatic tubules were characterised by varying numbers of hypertrophic and eosinophilic nuclei within epithelial cells. Parasite stages appeared as eosinophilic granular accumulations causing margination of host chromatin. In advanced cases, the tubule epithelia degenerated, with parasites and sloughed epithelial cells appearing in tubule lumens. All life stages of the parasite were observed within host nuclei. Uninucleate meronts were not detected, although binucleate stages were observed. Multinucleate plasmodia (sporogonal plasmodia) contained up to 22 nuclei in section, and late-stage plasmodia contained multiple copies of apparatus resembling the polar filament and anchoring disk, apparently associated with individual plasmodial nuclei. As such, aggregation and early assembly of sporoblast components took place within the intact sporogonial plasmodium, a feature unique to the Enterocytozoonidae. Liberation of sporoblasts from plasmodia or the presence of liberated sporoblasts was not observed in this study. However, large numbers of maturing and mature spores (measuring 1.3 ± 0.02 × 0.7 ± 0.01 μm) were frequently observed in direct contact with the host nucleoplasm. Considering the shared features of this parasite with microsporidians of the family Enterocytozoonidae, and the unique presence of this parasite within the nucleoplasm of decapod crustacean hepatopancreatocytes, this parasite (Enterospora canceri) is proposed as the type species of a new genus (Enterospora) of microsporidian. Molecular taxonomic work is now required, comparing Enterospora to Enterocytozoon and Nucleospora, the 2 other genera within the Enterocytozoonidae.

KEY WORDS: Cancer pagurus · Crustacea · Enterocytozoon · Enterocytozoonidae · Epithelium · Hepatopancreas · Intranuclear · Nucleospora · Nucleoplasm · Nucleus

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