Molecular characterization and confocal laser scanning microscopic study of Pygidiopsis macrostomum (Trematoda: Heterophyidae) parasites of guppies Poecilia vivipara.
Pygidiopsis macrostomum and Ascocotyle (Phagicola) pindoramensis (Digenea: Heterophyidae) parasitize guppies as intermediate hosts and, respectively, fish-eating mammals or birds as definitive hosts. Heterophyids have zoonotic potential, and molecular studies associated with morphological and ecological aspects have helped to clarify their taxonomy and phylogeny. Poecilia vivipara naturally parasitized by metacercariae of both species (100% prevalence) exhibit no external signs of parasitism. In this work, four new sequences of P. macrostomum (18S rDNA, 28S rDNA and ITS2 rDNA) and one new sequence of A. (P.) pindoramensis (mtDNA cox-1) are presented. Phylogeny reconstructions linked P. macrostomum to other heterophyids, but the separation of the Heterophyidae and Opisthorchiidae remains unclear. Additionally, we used indirect immunocytochemistry and the phalloidin-fluorescence techniques allied with confocal laser scanning microscopy to describe muscular and neuronal structures of P. macrostomum. A complex arrangement of muscular fibres is associated with the tegument, suckers, gut and reproductive system. Radial fibres around the ventral sucker are thick, branched and extend to the body wall. High-resolution confocal imaging revealed a typical digenean muscular arrangement and important heterophyid morphological traits. These data will support future control measures to reduce the parasitism in guppies reared in fish farming systems, especially for aquarium and experimental purposes.