Folia Parasitologica 61 81-89 (2014) | DOI: 10.14411/fp.2014.005
The glochidium larvae of freshwater mussels of the family Unionidae need to find suitable hosts to attach themselves and metamorphose into free-living juveniles. The specificity of the host-parasite relationship was investigated for the Iberian Unio tumidiformis Castro, 1885 by means of experimental infections and also by analyzing naturally infected fish. The process of encapsulation of glochidia was studied using scanning electron microscopy. Unio tumidiformis has proven to be an unusual host-specific unionid mussel, apparently parasitizing only fish of the genus Squalius Bonaparte, 1837. Successful encapsulation or complete metamorphosis was observed in five fish taxa: S. aradensis (Coelho, Bogutskaya, Rodrigues et Collares-Pereira), S. caroliterti (Doadrio), S. pyrenaicus (Günther), S. torgalensis (Coelho, Bogutskaya, Rodrigues et Collares-Pereira) and S. alburnoides (Steindachner) complex (only for the nuclear hybrids with at least one copy of the S. pyrenaicus genome). Complete metamorphose was achieved in 6 to 14 days at mean temperatures ranging from 21.8 to 26.1°C. The current study provides support for cell migration being the main force of cyst formation and shows the influence of potential host's genome in response to the infection process to determine the success of the metamorphosis.
Received: January 17, 2013; Accepted: June 24, 2013; Prepublished online: January 10, 2014; Published: January 11, 2014