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Geographical and host distribution patterns of Parvicapsula minibicornis (Myxozoa) small subunit ribosomal RNA genetic types



Parvicapsula minibicornis is a myxozoan parasite implicated in mortalities of both juvenile and pre-spawning adult salmon in the Pacific Northwest of North America. Disease severity and presentation varies between salmon species and geographical localities. To better characterize population structure of the parasite, we sought genetic markers in the P. minibicornis ribosomal RNA gene. We compared samples from California with the type specimen from British Columbia, identified sequence variations, and then sequenced 197 samples from fish, river water and the parasite's polychaete worm host. Although DNA sequences of the parasite were >98·9% similar, there was enough variation to define 15 genotypes. All genotypes were detected in fish samples, although not in all species. A single genotype only was found in sockeye and pink salmon in the Fraser River Basin, but was not detected in sockeye from the adjacent Columbia River Basin. All coho salmon, irrespective of river basin, were infected with a unique mix of 2 genotypes. These data indicated that the P. minibicornis population exhibited strong signals of structuring by both geography and salmonid host species. Particular genotypes may correlate with disease differences seen in salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest.


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*Corresponding author: Department of Microbiology, Oregon State University, Nash Hall 220, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA. Tel: +1 541 737 1856. Fax: +1 541 737 0496. E-mail:


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