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Concept: Amphipoda

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SUMMARY Parasites are known to affect the predatory behaviour or diet of their hosts. In relation to biological invasions, parasites may significantly influence the invasiveness of the host population and/or mediate the relationships between the invader and the invaded community. Dikerogammarus villosus, a recently introduced species, has had a major impact in European rivers. Notably, its high position in trophic web and high predatory behaviour, have both facilitated its invasive success, and affected other macroinvertebrate taxa in colonized habitats. The intracellular parasite Cucumispora dikerogammari, specific to D. villosus, has successfully dispersed together with this amphipod. Data presented here have shown that D. villosus infected by this parasite have a reduced predatory behaviour compared with healthy individuals, and are much more active suggesting that the co-invasive parasite may diminish the predatory pressure of D. villosus on newly colonized communities.

Concepts: Species, Fungus, Ecology, Crustacean, Invasive species, Introduced species, Malacostraca, Amphipoda

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Some larval helminths alter the behavior of their intermediate hosts in ways that favor the predation of infected hosts, thus enhancing trophic transmission. Gammarids (Crustacea: Amphipoda) offer unique advantages for the study of the proximate factors mediating parasite-induced behavioral changes. Indeed, amphipods infected by distantly related worms (acanthocephalans, cestodes and trematodes) encysted in different microhabitats within their hosts (hemocoel, brain) present comparable, chronic, behavioral pathologies. In order to evaluate the potential connection between behavioral disturbances and immune responses in parasitized gammarids, this Review surveys the literature bearing on sensorimotor pathway dysfunctions in infected hosts, on the involvement of the neuromodulator serotonin in altered responses to environmental stimuli, and on systemic and neural innate immunity in arthropods. Hemocyte concentration and phenoloxidase activity associated with melanotic encapsulation are depressed in acanthocephalan-manipulated gammarids. However, other components of the arsenal deployed by crustaceans against pathogens have not yet been investigated in helminth-infected gammarids. Members of the Toll family of receptors, cytokines such as tumor necrosis factors (TNFs), and the free radical nitric oxide are all implicated in neuroimmune responses in crustaceans. Across animal phyla, these molecules and their neuroinflammatory signaling pathways are touted for their dual beneficial and deleterious properties. Thus, it is argued that neuroinflammation might mediate the biochemical events upstream of the serotonergic dysfunction observed in manipulated gammarids - a parsimonious hypothesis that could explain the common behavioral pathology induced by distantly related parasites, both hemocoelian and cerebral.

Concepts: Immune system, Signal transduction, Innate immune system, Arthropod, Immunity, Crustacean, Radical, Amphipoda

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The mesopelagic habitat is a vast space that lacks physical landmarks and is structured by depth, light penetration, and horizontal currents. Solar illumination is visible in the upper 1,000 m of the ocean, becoming dimmer and spectrally filtered with depth-generating a nearly monochromatic blue light field [1]. The struggle to perceive dim downwelling light and bioluminescent sources and the need to remain unseen generate contrasting selective pressures on the eyes of mesopelagic inhabitants [2]. Hyperiid amphipods are cosmopolitan members of the mesopelagic fauna with at least ten different eye configurations across the family-ranging from absent eyes in deep-living species to four enlarged eyes in mesopelagic individuals [3-7]. The hyperiid amphipod Paraphronima gracilis has a pair of bi-lobed apposition compound eyes, each with a large upward-looking portion and a small lateral-looking portion. The most unusual feature of the P. gracilis eye is that its upward-looking portion is resolved into a discontinuous retina with 12 distinct groups, each serving one transverse row of continuously spaced facets. On the basis of eye morphology, we estimated spatial acuity (2.5° ± 0.11°, SEM; n = 25) and optical sensitivity (30 ± 3.4 μm(2) ⋅ sr, SEM; n = 25). Microspectrophotometry showed that spectral sensitivity of the eye peaked at 516 nm (±3.9 nm, SEM; n = 6), significantly offset from the peak of downwelling irradiance in the mesopelagic realm (480 nm). Modeling of spatial summation within the linear retinal groups showed that it boosts sensitivity with less cost to spatial acuity than more typical configurations.

Concepts: Optics, Retina, Eye, Color, Space, Cone cell, Amphipoda, Hyperiidea

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BACKGROUND: Gammarus minus, a freshwater amphipod living in the cave and surface streams in the eastern USA, is a premier candidate for studying the evolution of troglomorphic traits such as pigmentation loss, elongated appendages, and reduced eyes. In G. minus, multiple pairs of genetically related, physically proximate cave and surface populations exist which exhibit a high degree of intraspecific morphological divergence. The morphology, ecology, and genetic structure of these sister populations are well characterized, yet the genetic basis of their morphological divergence remains unknown. RESULTS: We used degenerate PCR primers designed to amplify opsin genes within the subphylum Crustacea and discovered two distinct opsin paralogs (average inter-paralog protein divergence [almost equal to] 20%) in the genome of three independently derived pairs of G. minus cave and surface populations. Both opsin paralogs were found to be related to other crustacean middle wavelength sensitive opsins. Low levels of nucleotide sequence variation (< 1% within populations) were detected in both opsin genes, regardless of habitat, and dN/dS ratios did not indicate a relaxation of functional constraint in the cave populations with reduced or absent eyes. Maximum likelihood analyses using codon-based models also did not detect a relaxation of functional constraint in the cave lineages. We quantified expression level of both opsin genes and found that the expression of both paralogs was significantly reduced in all three cave populations relative to their sister surface populations. CONCLUSIONS: The concordantly lowered expression level of both opsin genes in cave populations of G. minus compared to sister surface populations, combined with evidence for persistent purifying selection in the cave populations, is consistent with an unspecified pleiotropic function of opsin proteins. Our results indicate that phototransduction proteins such as opsins may have retained their function in cave-adapted organisms because they may play a pleiotropic role in other important processes that are unrelated to vision.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Evolution, Biology, Organism, Crustacean, Amphipoda

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Groundwater is an extreme environment due to its absence of light, resource scarcity and highly fragmentary nature. Successful groundwater colonizers underwent major evolutionary changes and exhibit eye and pigment loss (troglomorphies). Consequently, their chances of dispersal and survival in the well-connected surface waters are greatly decreased, resulting in significant endemism. The West Palaearctic subterranean amphipod genus Niphargus comprises hundreds of narrowly endemic and troglomorphic species. Nevertheless, a few are known to occur in surface waters, two of which, N. hrabei and N. valachicus, have extremely large ranges that even exceed those of many surface-water amphipods. We studied whether this pattern results from a secondary colonization of the relatively well-connected epigean environment, and that this ecological shift promoted the large-scale dispersal of these species. Results showed that despite their ecological and zoogeographic similarities, N. hrabei and N. valachicus are not closely related and independently colonized surface waters. Their phylogeographic patterns indicate Middle to Late Pleistocene dispersal episodes throughout the Danube lowlands, and relatively modest yet significant genetic differentiation among populations. Clustering based on morphology revealed that the two species are phenotypically closer to each other than they are to most other epigean congeners. We presume that the ecological shift to surface environments was facilitated by their ability to thrive in hypoxic waters where rheophilic competitors from the family Gammaridae cannot survive. In conclusion, our results indicate that adaptation to groundwater is not a one-way evolutionary path and that troglomorphic species can occasionally recolonize and widely disperse in surface waters.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Evolution, Biology, Charles Darwin, Colonialism, Gammaridea, Biogeography, Amphipoda

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There is a lack of suitable tropical marine species for ecotoxicity tests. An attractive model organism for ecotoxicology is the marine amphipod Parhyale hawaiensis, which is already a model for genetic and developmental studies. This species is widespread, can tolerate changes in salinity, is easy to handle and is representative of circumtropical regions. The aim of this work was to describe standardized procedures for laboratory husbandry, define conditions for acute toxicity tests, and to provide acute toxicity test results for some reference toxicants. Culturing conditions for the organism in the laboratory were established in reconstituted seawater (30 ± 2 salinity), 24 ± 2 °C, photoperiod 12/12 h light/dark. Acute toxicity test procedures were developed for 96 h-exposure time, and organisms at ages <7 days. The miniaturized version of the test, based on 96-well microplates and 200 µL of exposure media provided consistent results compared to larger exposure volumes (80-mL vials protocol). Acute toxicity of Ag, Cd, Cu, Zn and ammonia determined for P. hawaiensis were consistent to previous results for other marine amphipods. We conclude that P. hawaiensis can be successfully cultured in standardized conditions and be effectively used in acute toxicity testing. Further development and use of this model will enable standardized and reproducible ecotoxicology investigations in understudied and vulnerable tropical marine ecosystems.

Concepts: Biology, Organism, Developmental biology, Yeast, Animal testing, Toxicology, Tests, Amphipoda

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In an effort to broaden our understanding of the biodiversity and distribution of gregarines infecting crustaceans, this study describes two new species of gregarines, Thiriotia hyperdolphinae n. sp. and Cephaloidophora oradareae n. sp., parasitizing a deep sea amphipod (Oradarea sp.). Amphipods were collected using the ROV Hyper-Dolphin at a depth of 855 m while on a cruise in Sagami Bay, Japan. Gregarine trophozoites and gamonts were isolated from the gut of the amphipod and studied with light and scanning electron microscopy, and phylogenetic analysis of 18S rDNA. T. hyperdolphinae n. sp. was distinguished from existing species based on morphology, phylogenetic position, as well as host niche and geographic locality. While Cephaloidophora oradareae n. sp. distinguished itself from existing Cephaloidophora, based on a difference in host (Oradarea sp.), geographic location, and to a certain extent morphology. We established this new species with the understanding that a more comprehensive examination of diversity at the molecular level is necessary within Cephaloidophora. Results from the 18S rDNA molecular phylogeny showed that T. hyperdolphinae n. sp. was positioned within a clade consisting of Thiriotia spp., while C. oradareae n. sp. grouped within the Cephaloidophoridae. Still, supplemental genetic information from gregarines infecting crustaceans will be needed to better understand relationships within this group of apicomplexans. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Electron, Molecular biology, Species, Apicomplexa, Crustacean, Phylogenetics, Amphipoda, Gregarinasina

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Research on the uptake and effects of bioplastics by aquatic organisms is still in its infancy. Here, we aim to advance the field by comparing uptake and effects of microplastic particles (MPP) of a biodegradable bioMPP (polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB)) and petroleum-based MPP (polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)) in the freshwater amphipod Gammarus fossarum. Ingestion of both MPP in different particle sizes (32-250 µm) occurred after 24 h, with highest ingestion of particles in the range 32-63 µm and almost complete egestion after 64 h. A four-week effect-experiment showed a significant decrease of the assimilation efficiency in amphipods exposed to the petroleum-based MPP from week two onwards. The petroleum-based PMMA affected assimilation efficiency significantly in contrast to the biodegradable PHB, but overall differences in direct comparison of MPP types were small. Both MPP types led to a significantly lower wet weight gain relative to the control treatments. After four weeks, differences between both MPP types and silica, used as a natural particle control, were detected. In summary, these results suggest that both MPP types provoke digestive constraints on the amphipods, which go beyond those of natural non-palatable particles. This highlights the need for more detailed research comparing environmental effects of biodegradable and petroleum-based MPP and testing those against naturally occurring particle loads.

Concepts: Comparison, Particle, Poly(methyl methacrylate), Bioplastic, The UpTake, Gammaridea, Amphipoda, Niphargus

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Molecular taxonomy often uncovers cryptic species, reminding us that taxonomic incompleteness is even more severe than previous thought. The importance of cryptic species for conservation is poorly understood. Although some cryptic species may be seriously threatened or otherwise important, they are rarely included in conservation programs as most of them remain undescribed. We analysed the importance of cryptic species in conservation by scrutinizing the South European cryptic complex of the subterranean amphipod Niphargus stygius sensu lato. Using uni- and multilocus delineation methods we show that it consists of 15 parapatric and sympatric species, which we describe using molecular diagnoses. The new species are not mere “taxonomic inflation” as they originate from several distinct branches within the genus and coexist with no evidence of lineage sharing. They are as evolutionarily distinct as average nominal species of the same genus. Ignoring these cryptic species will underestimate the number of subterranean endemics in Slovenia by 12 and in Croatia by four species, although alpha diversity of single caves remains unchanged. The new taxonomy renders national Red Lists largely obsolete, as they list mostly large-ranged species but omit critically endangered single-site endemics. Formal naming of cryptic species is critical for them to be included in conservation policies and faunal listings.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Conservation biology, Evolution, Species, Taxonomy, Endangered species, Speciation, Amphipoda

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Temperature is known to impact host-parasite interactions in various ways. Such effects are often regarded as the consequence of the increased metabolism of parasites with increasing temperature. However, the effect of temperature on hosts' immune system could also be a determinant. Here we assessed the influence of temperature on the immunocompetence of the crustacean amphipod Gammarus pulex. Amphipods play a key ecological role in freshwater ecosystems that can be altered by several parasites. We investigated the consequences of three weeks of acclimatization at four temperatures (from 9 °C to 17 °C) on different immunological parameters. Temperature influenced both hemocyte concentration and active phenoloxidase enzymatic activity, with lower values at intermediate temperatures, while total phenoloxidase activity was not affected. In addition, the ability of gammarids to clear a bacterial infection was at the highest at intermediate temperatures. These results suggest a dysregulation of the immune system of gammarids in response to stress induced by extreme temperature.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Antibody, Bacteria, Infection, Immunology, Crustacean, Amphipoda