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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 129:31-39 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03234

Histopathological, ultrastructural and molecular phylogenetic analysis of a novel microsporidium in a loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta

S. A. Martinson1,*, S. J. Greenwood2, D. Wadowska1, K. Martin3

1Department of Pathology and Microbiology, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, 550 University Avenue, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P3, Canada
2Department of Biomedical Science, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, 550 University Avenue, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P3, Canada
3Canadian Sea Turtle Network, 6156 Quinpool Road, Suite 101, Halifax, NS B3L 1A3, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Microsporidial spores were identified in the musculature of a loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta found dead on the shore in New Brunswick, Canada. Gastroenteritis was diagnosed on gross postmortem examination, with no gross abnormalities detected in the skeletal muscle. Histologically, the microsporidial spores were associated with inflammation and muscular necrosis and measured 1.1-1.7 × 2.2-3.4 µm. Spores were typically identified within sporophorous vesicles and, less often, in sporophorocysts and were weakly Gram positive, had punctate PAS staining, and were occasionally strongly acid-fast. Ultrastructural characteristics included 7-10 polar filament coils and other standard features of microsporidial spores. PCR for the microsporidial small subunit rRNA gene sequence was performed on DNA extracted from the muscle and small intestine, and the resulting amplicon was sequenced and queried against published microsporidial genomes. DNA sequences shared 98.2-99.8% sequence identity to Clade III of the Marinosporidia. This is the first report of a microsporidial infection contributing to the mortality of a sea turtle.


KEY WORDS: Microsporidium · Small subunit rRNA · SSU rRNA · Caretta caretta · Muscle · Reptile


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Cite this article as: Martinson SA, Greenwood SJ, Wadowska D, Martin K (2018) Histopathological, ultrastructural and molecular phylogenetic analysis of a novel microsporidium in a loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta. Dis Aquat Org 129:31-39. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03234

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