The actinospore diversity of infected Dero digitata was surveyed (May 2011) from a channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) production pond in the Mississippi Delta region for the elucidation of unknown myxozoan life cycles. At present, only 2 myxozoan life cycles have been molecularly confirmed in channel catfish, linking the actinospore stage from an aquatic oligochaete (D. digitata) and the myxospore stage from the catfish. In this study D. digitata (n = 2,592) were isolated from oligochaetes collected from the bottom sediment of a channel catfish production pond. After 1 wk of daily observation, a total of 6 genetically different actinospore types were observed. The collective groups were classified as 2 aurantiactinomyxons, 2 helioactinomyxons, 1 raabeia, and 1 triactinomyxon. Overall prevalence of myxozoan infections in the isolated oligochaetes was 4.4%. Actinospores were photographed and measured for morphological characterization. Four previously undescribed actinospore types were identified and characterized molecularly and morphologically. Phylogenetic analysis revealed the raabeia and one of the helioactinomyxon (type 1) actinospores were closely related to the group of myxozoans known to parasitize ictalurids in North America. To date, no myxospores have been linked to the newly sequenced actinospores reported in this survey. The morphological and molecular data generated from this study will assist in the identification of myxospore counterparts for these actinospore stages and aid in the elucidation of unknown myxozoan life cycles in closed production systems.

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