ABSTRACT Levisunguis subaequalis Curran, Overstreet, Collins & Benz, 2014 , was recently described from the lungs of the definitive hosts, softshell turtles, Apalone ferox (Schneider, 1783), and Apalone spinifera aspera (Agassiz, 1857) as well as the viscera of an intermediate host, the western mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis (Baird and Girard, 1853). However, the original account lacked molecular data. Furthermore, histological examination of infected host tissues in the original account of L. subaequalis did not reveal any pathological changes in the intermediate host. The present work provides a robust morphological description of the nymph and novel molecular data from the 18S and 28S ribosomal gene regions and the cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 ( COI ) mitochondrial gene. Phylogenetic analyses using Bayesian inference and maximum likelihood analysis with concatenated sequence data from these 3 regions, as well as each region individually, placed the turtle pentastomid L. subaequalis as a sister clade to the crocodilian pentastomids of the genus Sebekia Sambon, 1922. While only concatenated phylogenetic analyses agreed with the currently accepted classification of the Eupentastomida and phylogenetic signal assessment indicated that the concatenated data set yielded the most phylogenetic signal, data from more taxa are still needed for robust phylogenetic inferences to be made. The intensity of infection ranged from 2 to 171 nymphs per fish, compared with the highest previously reported intensity of 6. These high-intensity infections with L. subaequalis were characterized by the nymphs occupying 5–50% of the coelomic cavity of G. affinis . However, despite this heavy parasite infection, fish exhibited minimal pathology. Observed pathology was characterized by compression or effacement of organs adjacent to the nymphs, particularly liver, swim bladder, and intestines, as well as the formation of granulomas around shed pentastomid cuticles. Nonetheless, the morphological and molecular data provided in the present work will bolster future efforts to identify this pentastomid in other hosts where pathology may be present in addition to aiding in the advancement of the field of molecular pentastomid systematics.
ABSTRACT There are multiple Henneguya spp. (Myxozoa: Myxobolidae) endemic to North American catfish aquaculture that affect the gills of channel catfish and their hybrids. These parasites are morphologically similar, and confusion exists regarding the predilection sites and pathologic changes associated with different species. In the spring of 2018, channel ( Ictalurus punctatus ) female × blue ( Ictalurus furcatus ) male hybrid catfish from 2 separate commercial operations in northwest Mississippi were submitted for diagnostic assessment in response to observed morbidity and reduced feeding activity. Fish presented with unusually heavy infections of Henneguya spp. plasmodia in the gills. The majority of gill filaments contained widespread, pinpoint, raised, white nodules corresponding microscopically to myxospore-filled plasmodia that obliterated interlamellar spaces. The bipolar myxospores were consistent with Henneguya spp. described from North American ictalurids, possessing slender fusiform spore bodies and elongate bifurcate caudal processes. Associated microscopic lesions included lamellar fusion, epithelial hyperplasia, infrequent, localized, granulomatous branchitis, and rare cartilage lysis, suggesting impaired gill function. Mature plasmodia were excised by laser capture microdissection from ethanol-fixed, hematoxylin and eosin–stained histologic sections for molecular analysis. Fragments (700 bp) of a highly variable region of the 18S rRNA gene, diagnostic for the Myxobolidae, were 100% similar at the nucleotide level to Henneguya exilis . Although mortality was negligible, fish in the affected ponds exhibited signs of respiratory distress similar to proliferative gill disease (PGD) caused by Henneguya ictaluri in channel and hybrid catfish. However, gross and microscopic lesions differed markedly from PGD, known colloquially as “hamburger gill disease.” While H. exilis has been reported from channel catfish, it is not typically associated with morbidity and mortality and has not previously been reported from channel × blue catfish hybrids. This work characterizes lesions and confirms the etiology of gill disease induced by the myxozoan H. exilis . In addition to PGD and other non-parasitic conditions, massive interlamellar H. exilis infection should be a differential consideration in pond-raised channel and hybrid catfish experiencing signs of respiratory distress.