Parasitic anemone infects the invasive ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi in the North East Atlantic
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We report of the first finding of parasitic sea anemone larvae infecting the invasive ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi in the North East Atlantic. Parasitic anemone larvae are common in the native habitat of Mnemiopsis, but have not previously been reported from any of the locations where Mnemiopsis has been introduced. General morphology and 18S rRNA sequences support the identification of the larvae as Edwardsiella sp. Excised anemone larvae were reared through metamorphosis and confirmed the identification of the parasite. Both Mnemiopsis and Edwardsiella larvae were monitored weekly during 2007 and 2008 and parasitic larvae were recorded from September to November both years. The highest density was observed in September 2008 when Edwardsiidae larvae reached 2.3 ind m−3. In 2008 total density of the parasite occasionally exceeded 40% of the host density and the potential consequences for Mnemiopsis population dynamics are discussed.
KeywordsMnemiopsis leidyi Edwardsiella lineata Edwardsiella carnea Enemy release hypothesis DNA barcoding Invasive species
We thank Hans G Hansson, Dep. Marine Ecology, University of Gothenburg, for information on sea anemones in the Skagerrak, and Adam Reitzel for supplying specimens of Edwardsiella lineata from USA. Financial support was provided by FORMAS through contract number 223-2007-1809 and the BONUS+ project BAZOOCA (FORMAS contract number 210-2008-1882) to PT and LFM, grant 272-06-0241 from the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation to LFM, EU Marie Curie “lidpop” to ES, and the Swedish Research Council (to PS).
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