Abstract

Two new species of myxosporeans are described from the gallbladders of estuarine stonefish, Synanceia horrida, and reef stonefish, Synanceia verrucosa, from localities off Cairns, in tropical north Queensland and in Moreton Bay in southern Queensland, Australia. Sphaeromyxa horrida n. sp. can be distinguished from congeners in the morphologically distinct “balbianii” species group within Sphaeromyxa on the basis of morphometric differences in length and width of mature spores, length and width of polar capsules, and unique small-subunit (SSU) ribosomal (rDNA) sequence composition relative to other taxa. Replicate SSU rDNA sequences generated from Sph. horrida n. sp. collected from Sy. horrida and Sy. verrucosa in tropical north Queensland and from Sy. horrida in Moreton Bay were identical, suggesting that this species is widely distributed along the east coast of Australia. Myxidium lapipiscis n. sp. can be distinguished from the majority of described Myxidium species on the basis of its relatively small mature spore size (6.1−7.9 μm long × 3.1−3.9 μm wide), and its unique SSU rDNA sequence. Specimens putatively identified as M. lapipiscis n. sp. were found in Sy. horrida from both tropical north Queensland and Moreton Bay, suggesting that this taxon is also widely distributed along the east coast of Australia. However, no molecular data were available for the specimens from tropical north Queensland for comparative genetic analyses. Bayesian inference and maximum likelihood analysis of the SSU rDNA sequences for these 2 new species revealed that Sph. horrida n. sp. formed a strongly supported clade with Sphaeromyxa zaharoni Diamant, Whipps, and Kent, 2004, which was described from the scorpaeniform, Pterois miles, from the Red Sea. This is the first report of myxozoans infecting stonefish (Synanceiidae).

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