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Henneguya sp. in yellowfin goby Acanthogobius flavimanus from the San Francisco Estuary


Myxozoan spores were observed in yellowfin goby Acanthogobius flavimanus collected from Suisun Marsh, San Francisco Estuary (SFE). Although histopathological changes associated with the parasite were not observed, the spores formed plasmodia that partially blocked the gastric and intestinal mucosa and gut lumen and may affect the perfomance and survival of the yellowfin goby. Morphological features of the spores resembled Henneguya sp. and molecular analysis of the 18S ribosomal DNA (Domain III) confirmed close similarity to H. rhinogobii and H. pseudorhinogobii isolated from the Japanese freshwater goby. The yellowfin goby myxozoan however, is likely an undescribed species based on phylogenetic analysis and morphologic features. Detailed description of vegetative and spore stages are currently lacking for proposal to a new species of Henneguya. A specific PCR test was developed, which confirmed a 100% prevalence of the parasite among randomly collected gobies in group 1 (N = 30) and group 2 (N = 15) at termination of the study at one month in captivity. The myxozoan was also detected from 18 gobies (12%) that died in the first group within two weeks in captivity. Apparently healthy gobies that served as controls did not reveal the presence of the myxozoan by PCR. This study documents the occurrence of a potentially new species of myxozoan in the yellowfin goby and underscores the detection of a parasitic infection in an introduced fish in the SFE. Although the pathogenesis of the myxozoan was not assessed and the prevalence as reported here is restricted to a comparatively small collection site in Suisun slough, the reemergence, identification, and ecological relevance of the parasite on goby populations in the SFE may be investigated in the future using the specific diagnostic tool developed in this study.

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