Myxozoans are spore-forming, metazoan parasites common in cold-blooded aquatic vertebrates, especially fishes, with alternate life cycle stages developing in invertebrates. We report nine cases of infection in free-flying native and captive exotic ducks (Anseriformes: Anatidae) from locations across the United States and describe the first myxozoan in birds, Myxidium anatidum n. sp. We found developmental stages and mature spores in the bile ducts of a Pekin duck (domesticated Anas platyrhynchos). Spores are lens-shaped in sutural view, slightly sigmoidal in valvular view, with two polar capsules, and each valve cell has 14-16 longitudinal surface ridges. Spore dimensions are 23.1 μm × 10.8 μm × 11.2 μm. Phylogenetic analysis of the ssrRNA gene revealed closest affinity with Myxidium species described from chelonids (tortoises). Our novel finding broadens the definition of the Myxozoa to include birds as hosts and has implications for understanding myxozoan evolution, and mechanisms of geographical and host range extension. The number of infection records indicates this is not an incidental occurrence, and the detection of such widely dispersed cases suggests more myxozoans in birds will be encountered with increased surveillance of these hosts for pathogens.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases