Identifying factors inducing trophozoite differentiation into hypnospores in Perkinsus species

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Trophozoites of species of Perkinsus in host tissues readily differentiate into hypnospores when incubated in Ray's fluid thioglycollate medium (RFTM). In contrast, hypnospores have rarely been observed in vivo, and when reported they have been associated with dying hosts. The objective of this study was to determine what altered environmental conditions trigger the differentiation of Perkinsus trophozoites into hypnospores. In the first part of the study, cultured P. chesapeaki trophozoites were exposed to lowered oxygen, acidic pH, increased nutrient levels, heat shock, or osmotic shock conditions, and hypnospore density was measured. Acidic pH, lowered oxygen, or increased nutrient levels significantly increased P. chesapeaki hypnospore formation. In the second part of the study, P. olseni and P. marinus trophozoites were exposed to acidic pH, lowered oxygen, or increased nutrient levels resulting in hypnospore formation in P. olseni but not P. marinus. This study demonstrated that changes in environmental conditions consistent with changes expected in decaying tissues or with RFTM incubation induce trophozoite differentiation. The response of the cultured trophozoites varied between species and between isolates of the same species. © 2012 Elsevier GmbH.

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European Journal of Protistology

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