Folia Parasitologica, vol. 62 (2015)

Folia Parasitologica 62:005 (2015) | 10.14411/fp.2015.005

How females of Achtheinus spp. (Pandaridae: Siphonostomatoida) attach to their elasmobranch hosts with notes on their effects on the hosts' fins

Susan M. Dippenaar1, Anine Jordaan2
1 Department of Biodiversity, School of Molecular and Life Sciences, University of Limpopo, Sovenga, South Africa;
2 Laboratory for Electron Microscopy CRB, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

Copepods of the genus Achtheinus Wilson, 1908 (Pandaridae) are parasites of elasmobranchs that attach to their fins, gill slits and around the nostrils. Specimens of Achtheinus pinguis Wilson, 1912 were collected and examined using histology and scanning electron microscopy to determine their way of attachment to the host and the possible effect on the host. They insert their antennae deep into the dermis of the shark's skin, which causes the most damage due to possible tissue compression and/or fibrosis as well as rupture of the connective tissue. Additionally, the presence of the copepod on the skin causes cell erosion of the epidermal cells and thus reduces the number of epidermal layers. The maxillipeds are used to attach to the placoid scales that cover the shark's skin and probably serve to keep the copepod and inserted antennae in position. This is accomplished by the insertion of the placoid scales into the flaccid corpus of the maxillipeds. Observed damage seems to be negligible to the shark apart from the possibility of secondary infection.

Keywords: Copepoda, attachment, Elasmobranchii, placoid scales, histology

Received: May 27, 2014; Accepted: September 9, 2014; Prepublished online: December 11, 2014; Published online: January 1, 2015


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