This study investigated aspects of the biology of the monogenean gill ectoparasite Polylabris cf. mamaevi (Polyopisthocotylea: Microcotyleae) infecting rabbitfish, Siganus rivulatus (Forskal) (Teleostei: Siganidae). Both host and parasite are Lessepsian immigrants that have co-invaded the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal. The infection prevalence and mean intensity of the polyopisthocotylean was examined in both native and immigrant host populations and found to be three times greater in the new biogeographical region. In vitro observations on parasite eggs from both areas indicated that hatching occurred almost exclusively in the dark. The reaction of the larval oncomiracidia to water flow and secreted host chemicals indicated that neither Red Sea nor Mediterranean oncomiracidia exposed to waterborne host metabolites displayed any significant response or change in behavior; however, upon encountering flow, they ceased to swim and drifted passively downstream. Host specificity of P. cf. mamaevi may have co-evolved with temporal synchronization of the parasite with the host's diurnal activity. Hatching of P. cf. mamaevi eggs was rhythmical and the timing coincided with the known nocturnal resting behavior of the hosts, when their schools lie immobile on the sea bottom. After hatching, abrupt cessation of active swimming by the oncomiracidia upon sensing host inhalant gill-ventilating currents is likely to facilitate rapid, passive entry into the gill chamber of a suitable host. The greater abundance of P. cf. mamaevi in the invading (Mediterranean) populations is probably due to the changed, new environment, possibly impacting host resistance to the parasite and encouraging heavier infections.
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Acknowledgements The present study was supported by The Israel Science Foundation founded by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Tel Aviv University Internal Foundation to A. Abelson. The authors wish to thank Dr. Craig Hayward of the University of Queensland, Australia, for identification of the worms and for his comments on the manuscript. The assistance of Mr. Saar Cohen is acknowledged for obtaining the animals and performing the experiments in Tel Aviv, and Dr. Eli Geffen for help with the statistical analysis. Thanks are due to Yariv Shtupler for his help in collecting and processing the parasites in the Red Sea.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Veterinary (all)
- Insect Science
- Infectious Diseases