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In vitro cultivation of Hematodinium sp. isolated from Atlantic snow crab, Chionoecetes opilio: partial characterization of late developmental stages

  • PETER H. GAUDET (a1) (a2), RICHARD J. CAWTHORN (a1) (a2), MELANIE A. BUOTE (a1) (a2), J. FRANK MORADO (a3), GLENDA M. WRIGHT (a4) and SPENCER J. GREENWOOD (a1) (a4)...


Hematodinium is a parasitic dinoflagellate of numerous crustacean species, including the economically important Atlantic snow crab, Chionoecetes opilio. The parasite was cultured in vitro in modified Nephrops medium at 0°C and a partial characterization of the life stages was accomplished using light and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). In haemolymph from heavily infected snow crabs two life stages were detected; amoeboid trophonts and sporonts. During in vitro cultivation, several Hematodinium sp. life stages were observed: trophonts, clump colonies, sporonts, arachnoid sporonts, sporoblasts and dinospores. Cultures initiated with sporonts progressed to motile dinospores; however, those initiated with amoeboid trophonts proliferated, but did not progress or formed schizont-like stages which were senescent artefacts. Plasmodial stages were associated with both trophonts and sporonts and could be differentiated by the presence of trichocysts on TEM. Macrodinospores were observed but not microdinospores; likely due to the low number of Hematodinium sp. cultures that progressed to the dinospore stage. No early life stages including motile filamentous trophonts or gorgonlocks were observed as previously noted in Hematodinium spp. from other crustacean hosts. All Hematodinium sp. life stages contained autofluorescent, membrane-bound electron dense granules that appeared to degranulate or be expelled from the cell during in vitro cultivation.


Corresponding author

* Corresponding author. Department of Biomedical Sciences, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, 550 University Avenue, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 4P3, Canada. E-mail:


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