MEPS 282:129-142 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/meps282129

Morphology and host-specificity of the apostome ciliate Vampyrophrya pelagica infecting pelagic copepods in the Seto Inland Sea, Japan

Susumu Ohtsuka1,*, Mariko Hora1, Toshinobu Suzaki2, Mikihiko Arikawa3, Gen Omura2, Kayoko Yamada1

1Takehara Marine Science Station, Setouchi Field Science Center, Graduate School of Biosphere Science, Hiroshima University, 5-8-1 Minato-machi, Takehara, Hiroshima 725-0024, Japan 2Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Kobe University, 1-1 Rokkodai-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe 657-8501, Japan 3Graduate School of Human Culture, Nara Women’s University, Kitauoyanishi-machi, Nara 630-8506, Japan

ABSTRACT: The morphology and host-specificity of the histophagous apostome ciliate Vampyrophrya pelagica infecting pelagic copepods in the Seto Inland Sea, Japan, were intensively investigated. Four stages were reconfirmed in the life cycle of the ciliate. A mature cell within the phoront bears cilia ready for quick excystation, and unique lamellar structures in the cytoplasm appear to be precursors of food vacuole membranes. These lamellar structures completely disappear in the fully grown trophont. The phoronts were attached to the ventral surface of the copepod prosome or legs, but were almost totally absent on the urosome. The number of phoronts per copepod was up to 43 for the adult female of Paracalanus parvus s.l. Phoront attachment was found irrespective of developmental stage and sex of P. parvus s.l., although the early copepodid stages were less frequently infected than the later stages, and the adult female was more intensively infected than the adult male. There was a marked seasonal change in prevalence and host-specificity of the phoronts. From middle summer to early winter, P. parvus s.l., Acartia pacifica, Tortanus forcipatus, Euterpina acutifrons, and Corycaeus affinis were frequently infected, while Oithona spp. and Microsetella norvegica were rarely infected, whereas from late winter to early summer, phoronts were detected only on the large-sized calanoids, Calanus sinicus and Euchaeta plana. This may be explained by a combination of longevity and molting of copepods, turnover time of the apostome life cycle which depends on water temperature, and seasonal changes in the abundance and food selectivity of predatory chaetognaths. Considering the high prevalence of apostome ciliates on not only copepods but also other crustaceans in the world oceans, the ecological influence of these ciliates on marine ecosystems should be re-evaluated.


KEY WORDS: Apostome ciliate· Vampyrophrya pelagica · Copepod · Parasite · Host · Histophagy · Trophodynamics


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