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Microsporidia-nematode associations in methane seeps reveal basal fungal parasitism in the deep sea
Sapir, A.; Dillman, A.R.; Connon, S.A.; Grupe, B.M.; Ingels, J.; Mundo-Ocampo, M.; Levin, L.A.; Baldwin, J.G.; Orphan, V.J.; Sternberg, P.W. (2014). Microsporidia-nematode associations in methane seeps reveal basal fungal parasitism in the deep sea. Front. Microbiol. 5: 1-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2014.00043
In: Frontiers in Microbiology. Frontiers Media: Lausanne. ISSN 1664-302X; e-ISSN 1664-302X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Deep sea
    Interspecific relationships > Parasitism
    Nematoda [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    Deep-sea methane seeps; Nematodes hosts; Deep-sea microsporidia parasitism; Muscle decomposion; Basal fungi in the deep sea

Authors  Top 
  • Sapir, A.
  • Dillman, A.R.
  • Connon, S.A.
  • Grupe, B.M.
  • Ingels, J., more
  • Mundo-Ocampo, M.
  • Levin, L.A.
  • Baldwin, J.G.
  • Orphan, V.J.
  • Sternberg, P.W.

    The deep sea is Earth's largest habitat but little is known about the nature of deep-sea parasitism. In contrast to a few characterized cases of bacterial and protistan parasites, the existence and biological significance of deep-sea parasitic fungi is yet to be understood. Here we report the discovery of a fungus-related parasitic microsporidium, Nematocenator marisprofundi n. gen. n. sp. that infects benthic nematodes at methane seeps on the Pacific Ocean floor. This infection is species-specific and has been temporally and spatially stable over 2 years of sampling, indicating an ecologically consistent host-parasite interaction. A high distribution of spores in the reproductive tracts of infected males and females and their absence from host nematodes' intestines suggests a sexual transmission strategy in contrast to the fecal-oral transmission of most microsporidia. N. marisprofundi targets the host's body wall muscles causing cell lysis, and in severe infection even muscle filament degradation. Phylogenetic analyses placed N. marisprofundi in a novel and basal clade not closely related to any described microsporidia clade, suggesting either that microsporidia-nematode parasitism occurred early in microsporidia evolution or that host specialization occurred late in an ancient deep-sea microsporidian lineage. Our findings reveal that methane seeps support complex ecosystems involving interkingdom interactions between bacteria, nematodes, and parasitic fungi and that microsporidia parasitism exists also in the deep-sea biosphere.

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