Myxozoan biodiversity in mullets (Teleostei, Mugilidae) unravels hyperdiversification of Myxobolus (Cnidaria, Myxosporea).
Parasitol Res. 2019 Nov 01;:
Authors: Rocha S, Casal G, Alves Â, Antunes C, Rodrigues P, Azevedo C
Mullets are ecologic and commercially important fish species. Their ubiquitous nature allows them to play critical roles in freshwater and marine ecosystems but makes them more vulnerable to diseases and parasitic infection. In this study, a myxozoan survey was performed on three species of mullet captured from a northern Portuguese river. The results disclose a high biodiversity, specifically due to the hyperdiversification of Myxobolus. Thirteen new species of this genus are described based on microscopic and molecular procedures: 7 from the thinlip grey mullet Chelon ramada, 2 from the thicklip grey mullet Chelon labrosus, and 4 from the flathead grey mullet Mugil cephalus. Myxobolus exiguus and Ellipsomyxa mugilis are further registered from their type host C. ramada, as well as six more myxospore morphotypes that possibly represent distinct Myxobolus species. Overall, the results obtained clearly show that the number of host-, site- and tissue-specific Myxobolus spp. is much higher than what would be expected in accordance to available literature. This higher biodiversity is therefore discussed as either being the result of the usage of poor discriminative criteria in previous studies, or as being a direct consequence of the biological and ecological traits of the parasite and of its vertebrate and invertebrate host communities. Bayesian inference, maximum likelihood and maximum parsimony analyses position the new species within a clade comprising all other Myxobolus spp. that infect mugiliform hosts, thus suggesting that this parasitic group has a monophyletic origin. Clustering of species in relation to the host genus is also revealed and strengthens the contention that the evolutionary history of mugiliform-infecting Myxobolus reflects that of its vertebrate hosts. In this view, the hyperdiversification of Myxobolus in mullet hosts is hypothesized to correlate with the processes of speciation that led to the ecological plasticity of mullets.