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Myxozoan infection in the muscle layer of the intestine of Rhamdia quelen from the Amazon River Basin, Brazil/Infeccao por myxozoa na camada muscular intestinal do Rhamdia quelen da Bacia do Rio Amazonas, Brasil.


The Myxozoa Grasse, 1970 are a heterogeneous group with approximately 60 genera (KENT et al., 2001; LOM & DYKOVA, 2006), which are widespread in aquatic environments, both freshwater and marine. Most of these parasites are considered pathogenic, infecting a variety of tissue in different types of organ, such as liver, kidneys, gills, gonads, intestines, and skin (LOM & DYKOVA, 2006).

The known species of Myxobolus BUTSCHLI, 1882 (Myxobolidae) are important pathogens in freshwater and marine fish (LOM & DYKOVA, 1992; EIRAS et al., 2005). There are few reports of Myxobolus cysts in the intestines of fish; although, a number of histopathological descriptions are available. These include MOLNAR's (2002) description of M. cyprinicola parasitizing Cyprinus carpio LINNAEUS, 1758 from Lake Balaton in Hungary, M. nodulointestinalis in Barbus spp. from Khozestan, Iran (MAGAHMI et al., 2008) and M. nodulointestinalis in B. sharpeyi GUNTHER, 1874 from southwest Iran (MASOUMIAN et al., 1996).

The freshwater silver catfish, Rhamdia quelen (QUOY & GAIMARD, 1824), is a siluriform reported in the Amazon region (FOWLER, 1951). It is a commercially important fishery resource in northern Brazil (BRASIL, 2011), and is also farmed at many sites in the Brazilian states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina (GOMES et al., 2000; BALDISSEROTTO & RADUNZ NETO, 2004). Despite its importance, few studies have been published on the microparasites found in this species; although, MATOS et al. (2005) have described a new myxozoan species, Henneguya rhamdia, discovered in the gills of R. quelen. The present study described the characteristics and histopathological features of the infection by Myxobolus sp. in the intestinal tract of R. quelen.


From January to December 2014 50 adults of R. quelen were captured in two rivers in the Brazilian state of Para, the Paracauari River in Salvaterra (00045S/ 48031W) and the Arari River at Cachoeira do Arari (01[degrees]00S/48[degrees]57W) on Marajo Island. Fish were transported live in aerated water from the respective habitats to the Carlos Azevedo Research Laboratory at UFRA in Belem (Para, Brazil). Specimens were maintained in aquaria until necropsy.

After being anesthetized with tricaine methanesulfonate (50mg [L.sup.-1]) (MS222 SIGMA), the fish were euthanized and dissected in accordance with the procedures approved by the UFRA ethics committee for animal experimentation. Necropsy began with an incision in the abdominal cavity. The organs were examined under a stereomicroscope and the cysts were analyzed by light microscopy.

The cysts were found attached to the intestinal tract of the hosts. Small samples of each parasitized intestine were extracted and pressed between a slide and coverslip with a droplet of water for observation using light microscopy (LM). After confirmation of the parasitism, tissue samples from a single fish with a thickness of approximately 5mm were collected and fixed in Davidson's solution for 24h and then processed and stained using the hematoxylin-eosin, Masson trichrome, and Ziehl Neelsen techniques (LUNA, 1968).

Fresh plasmodia with mature spores were examined morphologically and morphometrically under a light microscope, following KUDO (1921). Thirty spores from each of 10 parasitized fishes were measured (in mm) and mounted on slides with a coverslip and photographed under a Zeiss Primo Star optical microscope equipped with a Zeiss AxioCam ERc 5s photographic camera and the AxioVision 5.1 software.


Ten out of 50 R. quelen specimens analyzed in the present study (prevalence: 20%) presented parasitic infection by Myxobolus sp. in the final portion of the intestine. The macroscopic observation of these parasitized individuals revealed presence of whitish, ellipsoidal to ovoid cysts averaging 345 [+ or -] 46.9 [micro]m (213-408) in length and 195 [+ or -] 26.5 [micro]m (122-245) in width, in the inner intestine (Figure 1A). Each parasitized fish had 15 cysts in the intestines.

Light microscopy showed that the cysts were filled with spores, and when ruptured, mature pyriform spores averaging 10.9 [micro]m (10.011.6) in length and 5.1 [micro]m (4.2-5.4) in width were observed. The spores had two polar capsules (PCs) of equal size 5.3 [+ or -] 0.6 [micro]m (5.1-5.6) long and 1.6 [+ or -] 0.36 [micro]m (1.3-1.7) wide (Table 1). Each polar capsule contained a polar filament, although it was not possible to confirm the number of coils of the polar filaments under conventional light and differential interference contrast microscopy (DIC/ OLYMPUS).

Sporoplasm was observed in the final portion of the spore body (Figure 1D). Morphological comparisons with other intestine-dwelling Myxobolus found in cyprinids and freshwater siluriforms are shown in table 1.

Histopathological analysis based on Ziehl Neelsen staining revealed Myxobolus sp. cysts in the muscle layer of intestine (Figure 1B), while the Masson trichrome staining highlighted degeneration and inflammatory infiltration in the lamina propria (Figure 1C). A number of parasitic cysts were observed in the circular and longitudinal layers of the muscle tissue (Figures 1B, 1C) in which the whitish cysts were observed pressing on the luminal mucosa, bulging into the abdominal cavity, and lined by serosal layer.

Cysts were coated with collagen fibers and contained numerous Myxobolus sp. spores. A discreet mixed inflammatory infiltrate surrounded the cysts (Figure 1C).



A number of studies have described infections by Myxobolus of the digestive system of freshwater fish, in particular the intestine, of cyprinids (MASOUMIAN et al., 1996; MOLNAR, 2002; MAGAHMI et al, 2008) and catfish (Siluriformes). In siluriforms, infections have been attributed to Myxobolus bivacuolatus NARASIMHAMURTI & KALAVATI (1986), Myxobolus cunhai PENIDO (1927), and Myxobolus miyairii KUDO (1919) (Table 1). Structural and morphometric characteristics of these species were compared with those of Myxobolus sp. below.

The myxosporids reported in the muscle layer of the intestine of R. quelen had the same characteristics as those defined by LOM & DYKOVA (2006) for the genus Myxobolus. However, morphometric parameters distinguished species of this group, and showed that Myxobolus sp. is closest in size to M. cunhai by PENIDO (1927), but smaller than most other species except M. bivacuolatus NARASIMHAMURTI & KALAVATI (1986) (Table 1).

The spores of Myxobolus sp. were pyriform in shape (Table 1), similar to those of M. miyairii, M. duodenalis (KAUR & SING, 2011) and M. cunhai (PENIDO, 1927), but distinct from the ovoid spores of M. nodulointestinalis (MASOUMIAN et al., 1996) and the spherical ones of M. bivacuolatus (NARASIMHAMURTI & KALAVATI, 1986). Spores of Myxobolus sp. were similar in size only to those of M. cunhai; although, while the spores of Myxobolus sp. have two polar capsules of equal size, in M. cunhai, these structures are extremely elongated and unequal in size.

Parasitism by Myxobolus in the muscle tissue has been described in a number of other fish species. MANRIQUE (2015) described Myxobolus parasitizing skeletal muscle in Piaractus mesopotamicus (HOLMBERG, 1887); although, in contrast with the present study, only myofibril degeneration was observed in this species rather than the inflammatory infiltrates detected in R. quelen. However, inflammatory processes associated with Myxobolus sp. cysts have been observed in other species. For example, VELASCO et al. (2012) observed inflammation in the musculature of the palate of Gobioides broussonnetii LACEPEDE, 1800, which caused a generalized necrosis of the parasitized muscle, consistent with the presence of necrotizing myositis. MATOS et al. (2014) described a discreet inflammatory reaction and multifocal degeneration of the cardiac fibers by Myxobolus sp. in Pimelodus ornatus KNER, 1858 from Marajo Island.

The present study revealed macro and microscope infections by Myxobolus in the muscular layer of the R. quelen intestine. This observation contributed to the understanding of the freshwater microparasite fauna, which may contribute to the development of fundamental guidelines for the prevention or control of diseases in fish farming operations. The evidence of microparasitism by Myxobolus in fish may help develop important infection control which will be especially important in the case of R. quelen, in both natural and farmed fish, in order to guarantee the health of stocks, and the quality of the end product for human consumption.


The present study was approved by the Ethics Committee for Animal Experimentation of the Universidade Federal Rural da Amazonia (UFRA) (CEUA approval no. 013/2014).


We are grateful to Coordenacao de Aperfeicoamento de Pessoal de Nivel Superior (CAPES), Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientifico e Tecnologico (CNPq), Fundacao Amazonia de Amparo a Estudos e Pesquisas do Para (FAPESPA), Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renovaveis (SISBIO/ICMBIO-IBAMA), License no. 27119, and The Edilson Matos Research Laboratory (LPEM-UFPA).


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Jacqueline Pompeu Abrunhosa (I) Michele Velasco Oliveira da Silva (I) Jose Ledamir Sindeaux Neto (I) Patricia de Fatima Sacco dos Santos (I) Patricia Santos Matos (II) Osimar de Carvalho Sanches (III) Edilson Rodrigues Matos (I) *

(I) Laboratorio de Pesquisa Carlos Azevedo, Universidade Federal Rural da Amazonia (UFRA), 66077-901, Belem, PA, Brasil. Email: * Corresponding author.

(II) Edilson Matos Research Laboratory, Universidade Federal do Para (UFPA), Belem, PA, Brasil.

(II) Centro de Diagnostico Veterinario (CDAPVET), Presidente Prudente, SP, Brasil.

Received 12.23.15

Approved 06.23.16

Returned by the author 09.14.16

Table 1--Comparative measurements of Myxobolus spp. spores ([micro]m)
infecting catfish Rhamdia quelen intestine with other reported in
cyprinid and catfish freshwater species.

Myxobolus spp.          Spore shape   SL     SW     PCL   PCW

M. nodulointestinalis   Ovoid         12.6   8.1    3.6   2.4
M. cyprinicola          Ellipsoidal   11.8   9.0    5.0   3.2
M. miyairii             Pyriform      13.3   6.6    6.5   1.9
M. gayerae              Elipsoidal    15.1   12.7   6.1   4.0
M. bivacuolatus         Spherical     9.0    -      4.2   3.0
M. duodenalis           Pyriform      9.0    3.2    +     +
M. cunhai               Pyriform      10.0   5      +     +
Myxobolus sp.           Pyriform      10.9   5.1    5.2   1.5

Myxobolus spp.          Hosts country/region    References

M. nodulointestinalis   Barbus sharpeyi/Iran    MASOUMIAN et al.
M. cyprinicola          Cyprinus carpio/        MOLNAR (2002)
M. miyairii             Silurus asotus/Japan    LIU et al. (2016)
M. gayerae              Leucinus cephalus/      MOLNAR et al. (2007)
M. bivacuolatus         Clarias batrachus/      NARASIMHAMURTI &
                          India                   KAVALATI, (1986)
M. duodenalis           Wallago attu/India      KAUR & SING, (2011)
M. cunhai               Pimelodus clarias       PENIDO (1927)
Myxobolus sp.           Rhamdia quelen/Brazil   Present study

* SL, spore length; SW, spore width, PCL, polar capsule length;
PCW, polar capsule width; - without data, + unequal sizes.
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Title Annotation:texto en ingles
Author:Abrunhosa, Jacqueline Pompeu; Oliveira da Silva, Michele Velasco; Sindeaux Neto, Jose Ledamir; de Fa
Publication:Ciencia Rural
Date:Nov 1, 2016
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