First description of epizoic ciliates (Sessilida Stein, 1933) on Bathyporeia Lindström, 1855 (Peracarida, Amphipoda) and infestation patterns in brackish and marine waters

in Crustaceana
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During a re-examination of macrozoobenthic samples from a long-term monitoring programme in the Dutch Oosterschelde and Westerschelde, the abundant presence of peritrich ciliates on specimens of Bathyporeia Lindström, 1855, was discovered. Out of the more than 3500 Bathyporeia specimens investigated, 44% contained ciliates. Although Bathyporeia sarsi Watkin, 1938 was significantly more often infested than Bathyporeia pilosa Lindström, 1855, these differences in infestation rates were largely due to differences between water bodies with higher infestation rates in the polyhaline than in the mesohaline reach. Observation of additionally collected living specimens and freshly preserved material showed that at least two, and likely three, species of ciliates are present of which two might be undescribed so far. One of the observed species matches Zoothamnium nanum Kahl, 1933. A second species belongs to the genus Epistylis Ehrenberg, 1830, but does not seem to match a so far known species. This also accounts for a possible third species belonging to the genus Zoothamnium Bory de St. Vincent, 1826, deviating from Z. nanum amongst others in the habitus of the stalk. The front part of Bathyporeia spp. and the antennae in particular, significantly more often harboured ciliates than the remainder of the body, where additional ciliates were only found on the ventral side. This shows that the peritrich ciliates benefit from the water currents induced by the basibiont, providing food items, but might also indicate that Bathyporeia spp. benefits from the presence of the epibionts as they are most prevalent on the body parts that are easiest to clean. Analyses of densities and distributions of epibiont and basibiont species gave first indications of the ecological niche of the peritrich ciliate communities.

First description of epizoic ciliates (Sessilida Stein, 1933) on Bathyporeia Lindström, 1855 (Peracarida, Amphipoda) and infestation patterns in brackish and marine waters

in Crustaceana



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    Schematic drawing of a female Bathyporeia elegans Watkin, 1938 after d’Udekem d’Acoz (2004) with indication of the distinguished regions on the body where the presence or absence of ciliates was recorded. No ciliates have been observed in the region indicated in white.

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    Photographs of peritrich ciliates on Bathyporeia sp.: a, typical colonies of peritrich ciliates (most likely Zoothamnium nanum Kahl, 1933) attached to a peduncle of an antenna from Bathyporeia pilosa Lindström, 1855 (specimen stained with Rose Bengal and preserved in formaldehyde) (1000× magnification); b, typical colonies of peritrich ciliates (most likely Zoothamnium nanum) in detail (on a specimen stained with Rose Bengal and preserved in formaldehyde) (4000× magnification); c, individual and small colonies of alive Zoothamnium sp. on peduncles from antenna 2 of an alive specimen of Bathyporeia sarsi Watkin, 1938 (1000× magnification); d, a singular alive specimen of Zoothamnium nanum on Bathyporeia sarsi (4000× magnification) with its cilia out; e, singular alive peritrich ciliates on Bathyporeia pilosa (4000x magnification) showing a specimen without a spasmoneme (Epistylis sp.); f, singular and couples of peritrich ciliates on Bathyporeia pilosa (4000× magnification) where the lower specimen, belonging to the genus Zoothamnium, lacks transverse folds (Zoothamnium sp.).

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    Presence (0 = ‘always absent’; 1 = ‘always present’) of ciliates in regions of the body of Bathyporeia specimens indicated in fig. 1 (region 1, antennae region; region 2, mouth region; region 3, gnathopod, pereopod and pleopod region; region 4, uropod region) for 3 ciliate density classes (Category 1, 1-25; category 2, 26-75; category 3, >75 ciliates per Bathyporeia specimen). Significant differences (p<0.05) are indicated with different characters.

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    Principal Component Analysis (PCA) of Bathyporeia species densities and average ciliate numbers per specimen related to ‘environmental’ characteristics (i.e., substrate type (fine sand; muddy fine sand; other soft sediment substrate), salinity range (mesohaline; polyhaline), water body (Oosterschelde; Westerschelde) and location (depth; longitude as relative distance to the North Sea), sample year, total Bathyporeia density).

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    Relative number of ciliates per Bathyporeia specimen (all species included unless otherwise indicated), calculated as the average density class (varying from 0 (no ciliates) to 3 (>75 ciliates)) ± standard error per sample, comparing: a, the species B. pilosa Lindström, 1855 and B. sarsi Watkin, 1938; b, the gender groups males and the total of females and juveniles; c, the Oosterschelde and the polyhaline part of the Westerschelde; d, the entire waterbodies of the Oosterschelde and Westerschelde. All graphs show differences that are significant (p<0.05).

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    Positioning of MWTL samples with Bathyporeia present taken during 2010-2012 in the Oosterschelde and Westerschelde in the south-western part of the Netherlands with an indication of their total numbers and the relative ciliate infestation rates. The colour gradient in each of the two systems indicates the relative water depth with the deepest parts having the darkest colour. Specimens for alive observation were collected at ‘Den Inkel’ and ‘Galgeplaat’. The small map shows all MWTL samples taken during the same years.

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    Relative number of ciliates per Bathyporeia pilosa Lindström, 1855 specimen, calculated as the average density class (varying from 0 (no ciliates) to 3 (>75 ciliates)) ± standard error per sample, comparing the different years for the mesohaline and the polyhaline zone of the Westerschelde. Significant differences (p<0.05) are indicated with different characters.


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