Microsporidia are emerging intracellular parasites of most known animal phyla in all ecological niches. In shrimp aquaculture, the microsporidium Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei (EHP) is a major cause of concern inflicting tremendous losses to shrimp producers in southeast Asia. During a histopathological examination of Penaeus vannamei samples originating in a country from Latin America presenting slow growth, we observed abnormal nuclei in the epithelial cells of the hepatopancreas. A PCR screening of the samples using DNA isolated from paraffin embedded tissues for the SSU rRNA gene of EHP provided a 149 bp amplicon. In situ hybridization using the SSU rRNA gene probe provided a positive signal in the nuclei instead of the cytoplasm. Sequence analysis of the SSU rRNA gene product revealed a 91.3 %, 89.2 % and 85.4 % sequence identity to Enterocytozoon bieneusi, E. hepatopenaei and Enterospora canceri respectively. Furthermore, phylogenetic analysis revealed the newly discovered microsporidium clustered with E. bieneusi. Considering the intranuclear location of the novel microsporidium and the differences in the sequence of the SSU rRNA, we tentatively consider this parasite a new member of the genus Enterospora sp. The pathogenicity and distribution of the shrimp Enterospora sp. are currently unknown. Our future efforts are focused on the characterization and development of diagnostic tools for this parasite to understand if it acts as an emergent pathogen that might require surveillance to prevent its spread.
- Nuclear microsporidium
- Penaeus vannamei
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics