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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Perspective Around Cephalopods and Their Parasites, and Suggestions on How to Increase Knowledge in the Field


Although interest in several areas of cephalopod research has emerged over the last decades (e.g., neurobiology, aquaculture, genetics, and welfare), especially following their 2010 inclusion in the EU Directive on the use of animals for experimental purposes, knowledge regarding the parasites of cephalopods is lacking. Cephalopods can be intermediate, paratenic, or definitive hosts to a range of parasites with a wide variety of life cycle strategies. Here, we briefly review the current knowledge in cephalopod parasitological research, summarizing the main parasite groups that affect these animals. We also emphasize some topics that, in our view, should be addressed in future research, including: (i) better understanding of life cycles and transmission pathways of common cephalopod parasites; (ii) improve knowledge of all phases of the life cycle (i.e., paralarvae, juveniles, adults and senescent animals) and on species from polar deep sea regions; (iii) exploration of the potential of using cephalopod-parasite specificity to assess population boundaries of both, hosts and parasites; (iv) risk evaluation of the potential of standard aquacultural practices to result in parasite outbreaks; (v) evaluation and description of the physiological and behavioral effects of parasites on their cephalopod hosts; (vi) standardization of the methods for accurate parasite sampling and identification; (vii) implementation of the latest molecular methods to facilitate and enable research in above mentioned areas; (viii) sharing of information and samples among researchers and aquaculturists. In our view, addressing these topics would allow us to better understand complex host-parasite interactions, yield insights into cephalopod life history, and help improve the rearing and welfare of these animals in captivity.

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