Parasites of pufferfish, Lagocephalus spp. and Torquigener flavimaculosus of the Israeli Mediterranean: A new case of Lessepsian endoparasites

Michael Gabel, Patrick Unger*, Stefan Theisen, Harry Wilhelm Palm, Shevy Bat Sheva Rothman, Nitzan Yitzhak, Arseniy R. Morov, Nir Stern

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the opening of the Suez Canal as a link between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea in 1869, the biogeographical event of the Lessepsian migration has been starting. Aided by beneficial conditions in the new habitat, almost 500 marine species have immigrated and often established themselves in the Mediterranean Sea, including several pufferfish species, with all of them extending their range and becoming important components of the local fauna. The parasitic fauna of these pufferfish has scarcely been examined in the Mediterranean Sea or in their native range, which provides the opportunity to study host-parasite interaction in a new habitat. The present study describes the parasitic fauna in four alien invasive pufferfish species (Lagocephalus guentheri, L. sceleratus, L. suezensis, and Torquigener flavimaculosus) of various sizes and ages on the Israeli Mediterranean coast. The parasite fauna of these species was diverse (Maculifer dayawanensis Digenea; Calliterarhynchus gracilis, Nybelinia africana and Tetraphyllidea larvae Cestoda; Hysterothylacium reliquens, Hysterothylacium sp. and Raphidascaris sp. Nematoda; Trachellobdella lubrica Hirudinea and Caligus fugu and Taeniacanthus lagocephali Copepoda) and consisted of mostly generalist species, most likely acquired in the new habitat, and specialist copepod ectoparasites, having co-invaded with the pufferfish. Additionally, the oioxenic opecoelid digenean Maculifer dayawanensis was found in two pufferfish species. The genus was previously only known from the Indo-Pacific Ocean, representing the eighth reported case of a Lessepsian endoparasite so far. Our results suggest a change in parasite fauna to native Mediterranean species in the pufferfish like previously reported in other Lessepsian migrant predatory fish species and a wider spread of co-invasion of fish endoparasites to the Mediterranean Sea than previously assumed. The study also provides several new host records and the first report for parasites in T. flavimaculosus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-221
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Caligus fugu
  • Lessepsian migration
  • Maculifer dayawanensis
  • Molecular identification
  • Morphology
  • Opistholobetines
  • Taeniacanthus lagocephali
  • Trypanorhyncha


Dive into the research topics of 'Parasites of pufferfish, Lagocephalus spp. and Torquigener flavimaculosus of the Israeli Mediterranean: A new case of Lessepsian endoparasites'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this