Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Potential new species of pseudaliid lung nematode (Metastrongyloidea) from two stranded neonatal orcas (Orcinus orca) characterized by ITS-2 and COI sequences

Knowledge about parasite species of orcas, their prevalence, and impact on the health status is scarce. Only two records of lungworm infections in orca exist from male neonatal orcas stranded in Germany and Norway. The nematodes were identified as Halocercus sp. (Pseudaliidae), which have been described in the respiratory tract of multiple odontocete species, but morphological identification to species level remained impossible due to the fragile structure and ambiguous morphological features. Pseudaliid nematodes (Metastrongyloidea) are specific to the respiratory tract of toothed whales and are hypothesized to have become almost extinct in terrestrial mammals. Severe lungworm infections can cause secondary bacterial infections and bronchopneumonia and are a common cause of mortality in odontocetes. DNA isolations and subsequent sequencing of the rDNA ITS-2 and mtDNA COI revealed nucleotide differences between previously described Halocercus species from common dolphin (H. delphini) and harbor porpoises (H. invaginatus) that were comparatively analyzed, pointing toward a potentially new species of pseudaliid lungworm in orcas. New COI sequences of six additional metastrongyloid lungworms of seals and porpoises were derived to elucidate phylogenetic relationships and differences between nine species of Metastrongyloidea.

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