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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 58:165-170 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/dao058165

X-cells in fish pseudotumors are parasitic protozoans

Satoshi Miwa1,*, Chihaya Nakayasu1, Takashi Kamaishi2, Yasutoshi Yoshiura1

1Inland Station, National Research Institute of Aquaculture, Tamaki, Mie 519-0423, Japan
2National Research Institute of Aquaculture, Nansei, Mie 516-0193, Japan

ABSTRACT: Bottom-dwelling teleosts, particularly flatfishes or cod living in temperate to cold seawater, sometimes develop tumor-like lesions on the body surface or in the branchial cavity. These lesions usually contain masses of so called ŒX-cells¹ of unknown origin. We amplified a gene for small subunit ribosomal RNA (18S rRNA) from X-cell lesions of the flathead flounder Hippoglossoides dubius. Phylogenetic analysis clearly classified the obtained sequence as a protozoan, although the organism had no clear affinity with any known protistan groups. In situ hybridization showed that probes specific for the protozoan 18S rRNA hybridized only with X-cells, and not with the host-fish cells, indicating that X-cells harbor the protozoan rRNA. On the other hand, a probe specific for vertebrate 18S rRNA hybridized with the host-fish cells, but not with X-cells. This is conclusive evidence that X-cells are parasitic protozoans.

KEY WORDS: X-cell · 18S rRNA · In situ hybridization · Protozoa · Hippoglossoides dubius · Fishes · Pseudotumor

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