Abstract

Water mites of the genus Unionicola are the most common symbionts of freshwater bivalves. During the current investigation, a total of 120 live freshwater mussels representing 5 species, Corbicula fluminea (Veneroida), Coelatura aegyptiaca (Unionoidea), Mutela rostrata, and Chambardia rubens (Mutelidae), were collected from 2 localities in Tura (Helwan Governorate) and El Kanater (Qaluobiya Governorate), Egypt. Only 3 of the 4 bivalve species listed are considered freshwater bivalves (members of Unionoidea). Corbicula fluminea belong to the family Cyrenidae within Veneroida. Collected mussels were dissected and examined for the presence of unionicolid mites. It was found that 30.83% (37/120) were infected with a single mite species, Unionicola tetrafurcatus (Unionicolidae). The highest prevalence was observed during the summer with 83.33% (25/30) whereas the least was observed in autumn, i.e., 33.33% (10/30). Mites were recovered from the gills, gonads, and visceral mass of mussel hosts. Gills of host mussels were the primary site of oviposition for Unionicola mites. Smaller bivalves in size had significantly greater numbers of mites than did larger ones in size. Numbers of mites per host species was variable and the highest prevalence level of 83.33% (25/30) was recorded in Cor. fluminea while the lowest one of 16.66% (5/30) was found in Ch. rubens. Morphological and morphometric characterizations of mites revealed some differences between the present species and other related Unionicola. Histopathological responses of host mussels to the eggs, larvae, and cuticular remnants of U. tetrafurcatus were also studied. Therefore, the present study demonstrated that freshwater bivalves have a new host and locality records for infection with U. tetrafurcatus. Future studies are recommended to include advanced molecular characteristics for these mites.

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