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Infection of Gammarus duebeni populations by two vertically transmitted microsporidia; parasite detection and discrimination by PCR–RFLP

By J.C. Hogg, J.E. Ironside, R.G. Sharpe, M.J. Hatcher, J.E. Smith and A.M. Dunn


We screened a population of the brackish water crustacean Gammarus duebeni from the Isle of Cumbrae for the presence of vertically transmitted microsporidia. We compared 2 screening techniques; light microscopy and PCR-based detection using generic 16S rDNA microsporidian primers. Fifty percent of females from this population tested positive for vertically transmitted microsporidia. The PCR screen was 100% efficient in comparison with existing LM based screening. In addition, the PCR screen produced bands of 2 sizes suggesting that more than 1 species of microsporidian was present. Sequencing revealed 2 distinct species of vertically transmitted microsporidia; 33% of females were infected with the feminizer Nosema granulosis and 17% were infected with a new species which we provisionally designate Microsporidium sp. On the basis of sequence information, we developed a discriminatory PCR–RFLP test based on MspI and HaeIII digests. This screen allows rapid detection and discrimination of vertically transmitted microsporidia in natural field populations. We applied the PCR–RFLP screen to a second G. duebeni population from the Isle of Man. This population also hosted these 2 parasite species. In total 45% of females harboured N. granulosis and 10% harboured Microsporidium sp. No dual-infected individuals were found in either population. The occurrence of 2 vertically transmitted parasites within a population has implications for our understanding of parasite–host relationships in the field and we discuss factors affecting the dynamics of parasite–parasite competition and coexistence.\ud \u

Year: 2002
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