Endemic amphipods (Amphipoda, Crustacea) of the most ancient and large freshwater Lake Baikal (Siberia, Russia) are a highly diverse group comprising >15% of all known species of continental amphipods. The extensive endemic biodiversity of Baikal amphipods provides the unique opportunity to study interactions and possible coevolution of this group and their parasites, such as Microsporidia. In this study, we investigated microsporidian diversity in the circulatory system of 22 endemic species of amphipods inhabiting littoral, sublittoral and deep-water zones in all three basins of Lake Baikal. Using molecular genetic techniques, we found microsporidian DNA in two littoral (Eulimnogammarus verrucosus, Eulimnogammarus cyaneus), two littoral/sublittoral (Pallasea cancellus, Eulimnogammarus marituji) and two sublittoral/deep-water (Acanthogammarus lappaceus longispinus, Acanthogammarus victorii maculosus) endemic species. Twenty sequences of the small subunit ribosomal (SSU) rDNA were obtained from the haemolymph of the six endemic amphipod species sampled from 0-60 m depths at the Southern Lake Baikal's basin (only the Western shore) and at the Central Baikal. They form clusters with similarity to Enterocytospora, Cucumispora, Dictyocoela, and several unassigned Microsporidia sequences, respectively. Our sequence data show similarity to previously identified microsporidian DNA from inhabitants of both Lake Baikal and other water reservoirs. The results of our study suggest that the genetic diversity of Microsporidia in haemolymph of endemic amphipods from Lake Baikal does not correlate with host species, geographic location or depth factors but is homogeneously diverse.
Keywords: Amphipod parasites; Amphipods; Crustacea; Haemolymph; Hemolymph; Lake Baikal; Microsporidian diversity; SSU rDNA.