The First Isolation and Characterisation of the Protist Labyrinthula sp. in Southeastern Australia

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Journal Article
Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology, 2017, 64 (4), pp. 504 - 513
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© 2016 The Author(s) Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology © 2016 International Society of Protistologists As a result of anthropogenic influences and global climate change, emerging infectious marine diseases are thought to be increasingly more common and more severe than in the past. The aim of our investigation was to confirm the presence of Labyrinthula, the aetiological agent of the seagrass wasting disease, in Southeastern Australia and provide the first isolation and characterisation of this protist, in Australia. Colonies and individual cells were positively identified as Labyrinthula using published descriptions, diagrams, and photographs. Their identity was then confirmed using DNA barcoding of a region of the 18S rRNA gene. Species level identification of isolates was not possible as the taxonomy of the Labyrinthula is still poorly resolved. Still, a diversity of Labyrinthula was isolated from small sections of the southeast coast of Australia. The isolates were grouped into three haplotypes that are biogeographically restricted. These haplotypes are closely related to previously identified saprotrophic clades. The study highlights the need for further investigation into the global distribution of Labyrinthula, including phylogenetic pathogenicity and analysis of host-parasite interactions in response to stressors. Given the results of our analyses, it is prudent to continue research into disease and epidemic agents to better prepare researchers for potential future outbreaks.
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