Abstract

The cercaria of Bucephalus minimus infects the digestive gland and gonads of its first intermediate host, the edible cockle, Cerastoderma edule. Light microscopy (LM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of the cercaria showed a tail formed by a central stem, with 2 long contractile arms presenting distinct morphological surfaces. The encysted metacercaria naturally infected the flathead grey mullet, Mugil cephalus. The cysts found in the heart, liver, and spleen were shown to be identical by the internal transcribed spacer (ITS1) sequence and morphological features and were associated with encapsulation, recruitment of cell infiltrates, and presence of melanomacrophages and adipose tissue. To establish the life cycle, we compared the ITS1 sequence in an adult from the known definitive host, Dicentrarchus labrax; encysted metacercariae from the liver, heart, and spleen of M. cephalus; and a cercaria from C. edule. With this comparison, we determined that they had a 100% similarity. Therefore, the ITS1 sequence data clearly indicate that these 3 parasitic stages belong to the same species, i.e., B. minimus.

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