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The current study provides a morphological and molecular characterization of a new species of Didymodiclinus (Trematoda: Didymozoidae) infecting the dusky grouper, Epinephelus marginatus (Teleostei: Serranidae) from the Mediterranean Sea. A total of 279 dusky grouper specimens were examined for didymozoid gill parasites from the Mediterranean Sea between 1998 and 2020. New species differs from the most similar congeneric species by the rudiments of female reproductive organs in functional male specimens, and the seminal receptacle, Mehlis gland and accessory gland cells in functional female specimens, not observed in Didymodiclinus branchialis (Yamaguti, 1970), Didymodiclinus epinepheli (Abdul-Salam, Sreelatha and Farah, 1990) and Didymodiclinus pacificus (Yamaguti, 1938), respectively. These species are also characterized by their different hosts and location within the host tissues, being from other geographical localities. Moreover, this is the first species reported in E. marginatus from the central and western Mediterranean Sea. Genetic analyses were performed on partial 28S and partial internal transcribed spacer-2 ribosomal RNA regions and the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase 1 (cox1) gene by polymerase chain reaction. Comparison of genetic sequences of Didymodiclinus marginati n. sp. with the available deposited sequences of 28S revealed that the new isolates cluster with several unidentified didymozoids and groups as a sister clade of the Nematobothrinae subfamily. Moreover, 28S and cox1 phylogenetic trees evidenced that Didymodiclinae is well separated from Didymozoinae and other gonochoric didymozoids. Following both morphological and genetic results, a key of identification for the genus Didymodiclinus is proposed.
Between 2008 and 2011, the head of 150 Euthynnus alletteratus (Osteichthyes: Scombridae) caught inshore off the southeastern Iberian coast (western Mediterranean Sea) were examined for parasites. Two monogeneans, four didymozoid trematodes and four copepods were found. Parasite abundance showed a positive relationship with the annual sea surface temperature, except for Pseudocycnus appendiculatus, but negative with the sea depth (Capsala manteri, Neonematobothrium cf. kawakawa and Caligus bonito). Prevalences and mean abundances differed significantly among sampling areas, except for C. manteri, Oesophagocystis sp. 2 and Ceratocolax euthynni, and sampling years (Melanocystis cf. kawakawa, N.cf. kawakawa, P. appendiculatus and Unicolax collateralis). Results indicate that the parasite abundances of E. alletteratus in the western Mediterranean Sea depend mainly on regional environmental variables, which can show interannual variations. The presence of pelagic parasites, i.e. didymozoids and P. appendiculatus, could indicate that E. alletteratus migrates between inshore and offshore pelagic domains. The different parasite faunas reported in E. alletteratus populations from the western Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea appear to point out the geographical host isolation. These results suggest that E. alletteratus inhabiting the western Mediterranean Sea performs inshore-offshore small-scale migrations, and not transoceanic migrations between the western Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.
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