Development of the red algal parasite Vertebrata aterrimophila sp. nov. (Rhodomelaceae, Ceramiales) from New Zealand

2020-06-18T20:59:04Z (GMT) by Maren Preuss Giuseppe Zuccarello
© 2019, © 2019 British Phycological Society. Parasitic red algae grow only on other red algae and have over 120 described species. Developmental studies in red algal parasites are few, although they have shown that secondary pit connections formed between parasite and host and proposed that this was an important process in successful parasitism. Furthermore, it was recorded that the transfer of parasite nuclei by these secondary pit connections led to different host cell effects. We used developmental studies to reconstruct early stages and any host cell effects of a parasite on Vertebrata aterrima. A mitochondrial marker (cox1) and morphological observations (light and fluorescence microscopy) were used to describe this new red algal parasite as Vertebrata aterrimophila sp. nov. Early developmental stages show that a parasite spore connects via secondary pit connections with a pericentral host cell after cuticle penetration. Developmental observations revealed a unique connection cell that grows into a ‘trunk-like’ structure. Host cell transformation after infection by the parasite included apparent increases in both carbohydrate concentrations and nuclear size, as well as structural changes. Analyses of molecular phylogenies and reproductive structures indicated that the closest relative of V. aterrimophila is its host, V. aterrima. Our study shows a novel developmental parasite stage (‘trunk-like’ cell) and highlights the need for further developmental studies to investigate the range of developmental patterns and host effects in parasitic red algae.