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The Mediterranean Sea is recognized as a marine biodiversity hotspot. This enclosed basin is facing several anthropogenic-driven threats, such as seawater warming, pollution, overfishing, bycatch, intense maritime transport and invasion by alien species. The present review focuses on the diversity and ecology of specific marine trophically transmitted helminth endoparasites (TTHs) of the Mediterranean ecosystems, aiming to elucidate their potential effectiveness as ‘sentinels’ of anthropogenic disturbances in the marine environment. The chosen TTHs comprise cestodes and nematodes sharing complex life cycles, involving organisms from coastal and marine mid/upper-trophic levels as definitive hosts. Anthropogenic disturbances directly impacting the free-living stages of the parasites and their host population demographies can significantly alter the distribution, infection levels and intraspecific genetic variability of these TTHs. Estimating these parameters in TTHs can provide valuable information to assess the stability of marine trophic food webs. Changes in the distribution of particular TTHs species can also serve as indicators of sea temperature variations in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the bioaccumulation of pollutants. The contribution of the chosen TTHs to monitor anthropogenic-driven changes in the Mediterranean Sea, using their measurable attributes at both spatial and temporal scales, is proposed.
Northeast Arctic cod, saithe and haddock are among the most important fisheries resources in Europe, largely shipped to various continental markets. The present study aimed to map the presence and distribution of larvae of parasitic nematodes in the Anisakidae family which are of socioeconomic and public health concern. Fishes were sourced from commercial catches during winter or spring in the southern Barents Sea. Samples of fish were inspected for nematodes using the UV-press method while anisakid species identification relied on sequencing of the mtDNA cox2 gene. Anisakis simplex (s.s.) was the most prevalent and abundant anisakid recorded, occurring at high infection levels in the viscera and flesh of cod and saithe, while being less abundant in haddock. Contracaecum osculatum (s.l.) larvae, not found in the fish flesh, showed moderate-to-high prevalence in saithe, haddock and cod, respectively. Most Pseudoterranova spp. larvae occurred at low-to-moderate prevalence, and low abundance, in the viscera (Pseudoterranova bulbosa) and flesh (Pseudoterranova decipiens (s.s.) and Pseudoterranova krabbei) of cod, only 2 P. decipiens (s.s.) appeared in the flesh of saithe. Body length was the single most important host-related factor to predict overall abundance of anisakid larvae in the fish species. The spatial distribution of Anisakis larvae in the fish flesh showed much higher abundances in the belly flaps than in the dorsal fillet parts. Trimming of the flesh by removing the belly flaps would reduce larval presence in the fillets of these gadid fish species by 86–91%.
Post-mortem examination of a fin whale Balaenoptera physalus stranded in the Mediterranean Sea led to the finding of Bolbosoma balaenae for the first time in this basin. In this work, we describe new structural characteristics of this parasite using light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy approaches. Moreover, the molecular and phylogenetic data as inferred from both ribosomal RNA 18S-28S and the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome oxidase c subunit 1 (cox1) for adult specimens of B. balaenae are also reported for the first time. Details of the surface topography such as proboscis's hooks, trunked trunk spines of the prebulbar foretrunk, ultrastructure of proboscis's hooks and micropores of the tegument are shown. The 18S + 28S rRNA Bayesian tree (BI) as inferred from the phylogenetic analysis showed poorly resolved relationships among the species of Bolbosoma. In contrast, the combined 18S + 28S + mtDNA cox1 BI tree topology showed that the present sequences clustered with the species of Bolbosoma in a well-supported clade. The comparison of cox1 and 18S sequences revealed that the present specimens are conspecific with the cystacanths of B. balaenae previously collected in the euphausiid Nyctiphanes couchii from the North Eastern Atlantic Ocean. This study provided taxonomic, molecular and phylogenetic data that allow for a better characterization of this poor known parasite.
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