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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03789

    A novel neurotropic microsporidium from the swamp guppy Micropoecilia picta from Grenada, West Indies

    C. J. Schuster*, D. P. Marancik, C. E. Couch, C. Leong, J. J. Edwards, R. M. Kaplan, M. L. Kent

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: A novel microsporidium was observed in wild swamp guppies Micropoecilia picta from Levera Pond within Levera National Park Grenada, West Indies. Initial observations indicated similarity with Pseudoloma neurophilia, an important infection in zebrafish Danio rerio. P. neurophilia exhibit broad host specifity, including members of the family Poecillidae, and both parasites infect the central nervous system. However, spore morphology and molecular phylogeny based on rDNA showed that the swamp guppy microsporidium (SGM) is distinct from P. neurophilia and related microsporidia (Microsporidium cerebralis and M. luceopercae). Spores of the SGM were smaller than others in the clade (3.6 µm long). Differences were also noted in histology; the SGM formed large aggregates of spores within neural tissues along with a high incidence of numerous smaller aggregates and single spores within the surface tissue along the ventricular spaces that extended submeninx, whereas P. neurophilia and M. cerebralis infect deep into the neuropile and cause associated lesions. Analysis of small subunit (SSU) rDNA sequences showed that the SGM was <93% similar to these related microsporidia. Nevertheless, one of two commonly used PCR tests for P. neurophilia cross reacted with tissues infected with SGM. These data suggest that there could be other related microsporidia capable of infecting zebrafish and other laboratory fishes that are not being detected by these highly specific assays. Consequently, exclusive use of these PCR tests may not accurately diagnose other related microsporidia infecting animals in laboratory and ornamental fish facilities.