University of Adelaide research into parasites of cuttlefish, squid and octopus has uncovered details of the parasites’ astonishing life cycles, and shown how they may help in investigating populations of their hosts.
Researcher Dr Sarah Catalano has described 10 new parasite species− dicyemid mesozoans −, which live in the kidneys of cephalopods (cuttlefish, squid and octopus). They are the very first dicyemid species to be described from Australian waters.
“Although dicyemid parasites have been studied by other groups, nothing has been known about dicyemid fauna and infection patterns from Australian waters,” says Dr Catalano, who this month will graduate with her PhD from the University’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. She will continue her work at the South Australian Museum.
The dicyemid parasites are tiny organisms, simple in appearance and made up of only 8-40 cells without any obvious tissue structure – but they do have surprisingly complex life cycles. They exist in two forms: adults are long and slender whereas embryos can be a clone of the adult only smaller, or have a distinctive circular form. They also have two modes of reproduction – sexual and asexual.
“Surprisingly, we found that the left and right kidneys of a single host individual were infected independently of each other, with one kidney infected by asexual forms and the other by sexual forms, suggesting this mechanism is parasite-controlled not host-mediated,” says Dr Catalano. This finding has been published in the journal Folia Parasitologica.
“To make their life cycle that much more complex, these parasites are also highly host-species specific. To infect a new host, the circular embryo form of the parasite is released with the host’s urine out into the sea. It then has to find a new squid or cuttlefish or octopus individual that is of the right species within a limited time-frame before it perishes, while also battling environmental conditions such as strong water currents and varying salinity.
“Somehow this tiny organism – just a few cells in size – manages this complex and highly specific reinfection and the astonishing life cycle beings again.”
This high degree of specificity means the parasites have potential use as “biological tags” to help assess population structures of cephalopods, including the iconic giant Australian cuttlefish.
“We looked at the dicyemids in two species of cuttlefish, the giant Australian cuttlefish and the nova cuttlefish, from various localities in South Australian waters,” Dr Catalano says. “We found different dicyemid species infected each cuttlefish species at different localities, suggesting there are unique populations of each host species in South Australian waters.
“As such, this offers support for the use of dicyemid parasites as biological tags and we hope to be able to use these parasites to tell us more about cephalopod population structure to assist in management plans.”
Dr Sarah Catalano
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
The University of Adelaide
Phone: +61 8 8313 5513
Mobile: +61 (0) 437 574 880
Media and Communications Officer
The University of Adelaide
Phone: +61 8 8313 6341
Mobile: +61 410 689 084
Robyn Mills | newswise
Upcycling of PET Bottles: New Ideas for Resource Cycles in Germany
25.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Betriebsfestigkeit und Systemzuverlässigkeit LBF
Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
23.07.2018 | Science Education
23.07.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.07.2018 | Life Sciences