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In vitro culture and developmental cycle of the parasitic dinoflagellate Hematodinium sp. from the blue crab Callinectes sapidus

  • CAIWEN LI (a1), TERRENCE L. MILLER (a1), HAMISH J. SMALL (a1) and JEFFREY D. SHIELDS (a1)
Summary

Hematodinium is a genus of parasitic dinoflagellates whose species have caused significant mortalities in marine crustacean fisheries worldwide. A species of Hematodinium infects the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus on the eastern seaboard of the USA. The mode of transmission of the parasite in blue crabs is unknown. We established several continuous in vitro cultures of Hematodinium sp. isolated from the haemolymph of infected blue crabs. One isolate has been continuously maintained in our laboratory through serial subcultivation for over 12 months, and is capable of infecting new hosts when inoculated into healthy crabs. Cells of the parasite undergo characteristic developmental changes in vitro consistent with the identifiable stages of Hematodinium sp.: filamentous trophonts, amoeboid trophonts, arachnoid trophonts and sporonts, sporoblasts, prespores and dinospores (macrospores and microspores). Additionally, we describe an unusual shunt in the life cycle wherein presumptive schizonts derived from arachnoid sporonts developed into filamentous and arachnoid trophonts that can then initiate arachnoid sporonts in new cultures. This may explain the rapid proliferation of the parasite in blue crab hosts. We also found that temperature and light intensity affected the growth and development of the parasite in vitro.

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*Corresponding author: Tel: 001 804 684 7128. Fax: 001-804 684 7186. E-mail: jeff@vims.edu
References
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Parasitology
  • ISSN: 0031-1820
  • EISSN: 1469-8161
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