Histophagous ciliate Pseudocollinia brintoni and bacterial assemblage interaction with krill Nyctiphanes simplex. I. Transmission process

Dis Aquat Organ. 2015 Oct 27;116(3):213-25. doi: 10.3354/dao02922.


Histophagous ciliates of the genus Pseudocollinia cause epizootic events that kill adult female krill (Euphausiacea), but their mode of transmission is unknown. We compared 16S rRNA sequences of bacterial strains isolated from stomachs of healthy krill Nyctiphanes simplex specimens with sequences of bacterial isolates and sequences of natural bacterial communities from the hemocoel of N. simplex specimens infected with P. brintoni to determine possible transmission pathways. All P. brintoni endoparasitic life stages and the transmission tomite stage (outside the host) were associated with bacterial assemblages. 16S rRNA sequences from isolated bacterial strains showed that Photobacterium spp. and Pseudoalteromonas spp. were dominant members of the bacterial assemblages during all life phases of P. brintoni and potential pathobionts. They were apparently unaffected by the krill's immune system or the histophagous activity of P. brintoni. However, other bacterial strains were found only in certain P. brintoni life phases, indicating that as the infection progressed, microhabitat conditions and microbial interactions may have become unfavorable for some strains of bacteria. Trophic infection is the most parsimonious explanation for how P. brintoni infects krill. We estimated N. simplex vulnerability to P. brintoni infection during more than three-fourths of their life span, infecting mostly adult females. The ciliates have relatively high prevalence levels (albeit at <10% of sampled stations) and a short life cycle (estimated <7 d). Histophagous ciliate-krill interactions may occur in other krill species, particularly those that form dense swarms and attain high population densities that potentially enhance trophic transmission and allow completion of the Pseudocollinia spp. life cycle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / ultrastructure
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Ciliophora / physiology*
  • Euphausiacea / microbiology
  • Euphausiacea / parasitology*
  • Female
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Phylogeny