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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 133:57-68 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03326

Detection and characterisation of haplosporidian parasites of the blue mussel Mytilus edulis, including description of the novel parasite Minchinia mytili n. sp.

Georgia M. Ward1,2,3,*, Stephen W. Feist2, Patricia Noguera4, Mar Marcos-López4,5, Stuart Ross2, Matthew Green2, Ander Urrutia2, John P. Bignell2, David Bass1,2

1Department of Life Sciences, Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD, UK
2Centre for the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences (Cefas), Weymouth DT4 8UB, UK
3College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4QD, UK
4Marine Scotland Science, Aberdeen AB11 9DB, UK
5FishVet Group Ireland, Oranmore, County Galway, Ireland
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The edible mussel Mytilus edulis is a major aquaculture commodity in Europe, with 168000 t produced in 2015. A number of abundant, well characterised parasites of the species are known, though none are considered to cause significant mortality. Haplosporida (Rhizaria, Endomyxa) is an order of protistan parasites of aquatic invertebrates, the best studied of which are the oyster pathogens Haplosporidium nelsoni and Bonamia ostreae. While these species are well characterised within their hosts, the diversity, life-cycle and modes of transmission of haplosporidians are very poorly understood. Haplosporidian parasites have previously been reported from Mytilus spp., however the majority of these remain uncharacterised, and no molecular data exist for any species. In this study, we identified 2 novel haplosporidian parasites of M. edulis present in the UK. The first of these, observed by light microscopy and in situ hybridisation infecting the gills, mantle, gonadal tubules and digestive connective tissues of mussels in the Tamar estuary, England, we describe as Minchinia mytili on the basis of 18S sequence data. The second, observed infecting a single archive specimen collected in Loch Spelve, Mull, Scotland, infects the foot muscle, gills and connective tissue of the digestive gland. Sequence data places this parasite in an uncharacterised clade of sequences amplified from tropical bivalve guts and water samples, sister to H. nelsoni. Screening of water and sediment samples collected at the sample site in the Tamar estuary revealed the presence of both sequence types in the water column, suggesting host-free or planktonic life stages.


KEY WORDS: Ascetosporea · Haplosporida · Haplosporidium · Minchinia · Mussel · Mytilus · Parasite


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Cite this article as: Ward GM, Feist SW, Noguera P, Marcos-López M and others (2019) Detection and characterisation of haplosporidian parasites of the blue mussel Mytilus edulis, including description of the novel parasite Minchinia mytili n. sp.. Dis Aquat Org 133:57-68. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03326

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