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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 110:25-32 (2014)  -  DOI:

Contribution to the DAO Special: 'Microcell parasites of molluscs'

Review of Mikrocytos microcell parasites at the dawn of a new age of scientific discovery

Cathryn L. Abbott*, Gary R. Meyer

Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Pacific Biological Station, 3190 Hammond Bay Road, Nanaimo, BC V9T 6N7, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The genus Mikrocytos is traditionally known for Mikrocytos mackini, the microcell parasite that typically infects Pacific oysters along the west coast of North America. Multiple factors have conspired to create difficulty for scientific research on Mikrocytos parasites. These include their tiny cell size, infections that are often of light intensity, lack of suitable cell lines and techniques for in vitro culture, and the seasonal nature of infections. The extreme rate of molecular evolution in Mikrocytos stymied new species discovery and confounded attempts to resolve its phylogenetic position for many years. Fortunately, 2 recent landmark studies have paved the way forward for future research by drastically changing our understanding of the evolution and diversity of these parasites. No longer an orphan eukaryotic lineage, the phylogenetic placement of Mikrocytos has been confidently resolved within Rhizaria and as sister taxon to Haplosporidia. The genus has also found a taxonomic home within the newly-discovered order, Mikrocytida — a globally distributed lineage of parasites infecting a wide range of invertebrate hosts. Here we review available scientific information on Mikrocytos parasites including their evolution and diversity, host and geographic ranges, epizootiology, and detection of the regulated pathogen, M. mackini. We also make recommendations towards a consistent taxonomic framework for this genus by minimally suggesting the use of 18S rDNA sequence, host species information, and histopathological presentation in new species descriptions. This is timely given that we are likely embarking on a new era of scientific advancements, including species discovery, in this genus and its relatives.

KEY WORDS: Mikrocytos mackini · Mikrocytid · Mikrocytida · Protistan · Shellfish parasites · Taxonomy · Denman Island disease

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Cite this article as: Abbott CL, Meyer GR (2014) Review of Mikrocytos microcell parasites at the dawn of a new age of scientific discovery. Dis Aquat Org 110:25-32.

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