Tracing the genus Sphaerospora: rediscovery, redescription and phylogeny of the Sphaerospora ranae (Morelle, 1929) n. comb. (Myxosporea, Sphaerosporidae), with emendation of the genus Sphaerospora

Parasitology. 2007 Nov;134(Pt 12):1727-39. doi: 10.1017/S0031182007003241. Epub 2007 Jul 26.


Using a combination of morphological, life-history and molecular data, we redescribe Sphaerospora ranae (Morelle, 1929) n. comb. (previously Leptotheca ranae) and emend its taxonomic status. Renal infection was recorded in 2 spp. of frogs (out of 5 amphibian spp. examined), Rana dalmatina (proposed type host) and Rana temporaria, suggesting restricted host specifity of S. ranae. We provide a description of sporogonic stages of S. ranae for the first time and suggest possible modes of its developmental cycle. Phylogenetic analysis inferred from the small-subunit ribosomal DNA revealed a close relationship of S. ranae with piscine Sphaerospora elegans (type species of the genus) and Sphaerospora truttae, forming together with distantly related Leptotheca fugu a 'Sphaerosporid clade', the basal branch to all myxosporean species. The close relationship of the 3 Sphaerospora spp. is further supported by the presence of 2 areas with extensive nucleotide insertions in the V4 region of the SSU rDNA (absent in L. fugu), morphology and life-history features. We conclude, that the spore morphology of Sphaerospora s.l., is very simple and probably represents a 'primitive', basal morphotype retained in most myxosporean lineages. Based on presented data, we propose emendation of the genus Sphaerospora using morpological, life-history and molecular features.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Czech Republic / epidemiology
  • DNA, Protozoan / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Eukaryota / classification*
  • Eukaryota / cytology
  • Eukaryota / genetics
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Kidney / parasitology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny*
  • Prevalence
  • Protozoan Infections, Animal / epidemiology
  • Protozoan Infections, Animal / pathology
  • Ranidae / parasitology*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / veterinary
  • Spores, Protozoan / cytology


  • DNA, Protozoan
  • DNA, Ribosomal

Associated data

  • GENBANK/EF211975