Author(s): Canning EU, Okamura B
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Abstract Myxozoans (phylum Myxozoa) are metazoan parasites utilizing invertebrate and (mainly) aquatic vertebrate hosts. They have in common with cnidarians the possession of virtually identical, highly complex organelles, namely the polar capsules in myxozoan spores, serving for attachment to new hosts and the nematocysts in surface epithelia of cnidarians, serving for food capture. Although myxozoan spores are multicellular, the simple trophic body forms of almost all species, reduced to syncytial plasmodia or single cells, reveal no clues to myxozoan ancestry or phylogenetic relationships. The myxozoan genus Buddenbrockia is one of only two known genera belonging to a clade which diverged early in the evolution of the Myxozoa. Today the Myxozoa are represented by two classes, the Myxosporea, containing all the better-known genera, which alternate between fish and annelids, and the Malacosporea, containing Buddenbrockia and Tetracapsuloides, parasitising bryozoans. The latter genus also infects salmonid fish, causing proliferative kidney disease (PKD). The enigmatic Buddenbrockia has retained some of its ancestral features in a body wall of two cell layers and a worm-like shape, maintained by four longitudinally-running muscle blocks, similar to a gutless nematode and suggestive of a bilaterian ancestry. Although some analyses of 18S rDNA sequences tend towards a cnidarian (diploblast) affinity for myxozoans, the majority of these studies place them within, or sister to, the Bilateria. The latter view is supported by their possession of central class Hox genes, so far considered to be synapomorphic for Bilateria. The simple body form is, therefore, an extreme example of simplification due to parasitism. Various hypotheses for the occurrence of identical complex organelles (nematocysts and polar capsules) in diploblast and triploblast phyla are evaluated: common ancestry, convergent evolution, gene transfer and, especially, endosymbiosis. A theory of the evolution of their digenetic life cycles is proposed, with the invertebrate as primary host and secondary acquisition of the vertebrate host serving for asexual population increase.
This article was published in Adv Parasitol
and referenced in Biological Systems: Open Access