A new microsporidian infecting the Mediterranean common stingray Dasyatis pastinaca (Linnaeus, 1758) is described from Iskenderun Bay, Turkey. The parasite invades the disc muscles, producing slender, spindle-shaped subcutaneous swellings that develop into massive, elongated, tumor-like protuberances measuring up to 11 × 4 cm. Severity of the infection may vary from light (1 or 2 small lesions) to intense, with large parts of the dorsal surface covered with lumps and protrusions. These masses contained a yellowish-white caseous substance consisting of degraded host tissue and microsporidian sporophorous vesicles, which in turn contained developing sporonts, sporoblasts and spores. The ripe spore contained a uni-nucleate sporoplasm and large posterior vacuole, and measured 3.8-4.3 × 2.6-2.8 μm. Infection prevalence was 21% in a sample of 143 host individuals examined. All the infected stingray individuals were within the weight class of 300 to 800 g (200 to 305 mm disc width). Phylogenetic analyses of rDNA sequences indicate that this microsporidian belongs to the Pleistophoridae and clusters with species of the genera Ovipleistophora Pekkarinen, Lom & Nilsen, 2002 and Heterosporis Schubert, 1969. However, the morphology, development and host differ distinctly from all reported species, including those belonging to these 2 genera, and it is thus assigned to a newly erected genus and named Dasyatispora levantinae gen. et sp. nov. This is the first record of a microsporidian infection in a batoid. It is also the first microsporidian species to be formally described from an elasmobranch.
- Dasyatis pastinaca
- Dasyatispora levantinae gen. et sp. nov.
- Eastern Mediterranean
- Subcutaneous swellings
- Tumor-like bulges