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Branchiobdellidan infestation on endangered white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) in the UK

  • P. J. ROSEWARNE (a1), R. J. G. MORTIMER (a2) and A. M. DUNN (a1)


Branchiobdellidans or crayfish worms are clitellate annelids and ectosymbionts of freshwater crayfish. An investigation of branchiobdellidan infestation was undertaken in a population of endangered white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) in the river Aire, UK. Thirty two percent of animals were infested either by the adult parasite or their cocoons (n=107). Parasite burden increased with host size, but did not differ with sex. Observations of crayfish gill tissue revealed a strong positive relationship between melanization of filaments and parasite prevalence and burden. Taxonomic identification revealed that 1 species of branchiobdellidan was present, Branchiobdella astaci. The first sequences were generated for this species and phylogenetically analysed alongside published sequences for 5 other branchiobdellidan species in Europe. The position of B. astaci within the genus Branchiobdella was confirmed, and it was found to cluster as a sister group to B. parasita.


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*Corresponding author: Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK. Tel: +44 (0)113 3432856. Fax +44 (0)113 3432835. E-mail:


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Branchiobdellidan infestation on endangered white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) in the UK

  • P. J. ROSEWARNE (a1), R. J. G. MORTIMER (a2) and A. M. DUNN (a1)


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