Characterization of a new chytrid species parasitic on the dinoflagellate, Peridinium gatunense

Tamar Leshem, Peter M. Letcher, Martha J. Powell, Assaf Sukenik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Only a few chytrid fungi have been reported as parasites of dinoflagellates. Among these reports, chytrids are periodically observed growing on the dinoflagellate, Peridinium gatunense, in Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), Israel. Because of the distinctive roles of parasitic chytrid fungi in decreasing phytoplankton populations and in transforming inedible algae into chytrid biomass which zooplankton grazers can eat, characterizing dinoflagellate parasites contributes to our understanding of the sustainability of this important water resource. An undescribed chytrid parasite of P. gatunense from Lake Kinneret has recently been brought into pure culture (KLL_TL-060613), facilitating exploration of its infection process. To evaluate the ability of this chytrid to affect host populations, we determined the effect of: (1) temperature and light (or dark) on prevalence of infection and (2) host growth phase and parasite:host ratio on percentage of infection. The greatest amplification in host infection occurred in cultures grown in the dark at 25 C. The percentage of host cells infected increased as the availability of host cells compared to parasite cells increased. These results demonstrate that environmental factors influence the chytrid's potential to affect Peridinium gatunense populations. Because this chytrid had not been described taxonomically, we characterized its thallus morphology, development, zoospore ultrastructure and phylogenetic relationships. Zoospore ultrastructure was compatible with the Group II type zoospore characteristic of the family Chytridiaceae in the Chytridiales. Consistent with this observation, phylogenetic analyses of nuc 28S rDNA D1-D3 domains (28S) placed the chytrid in a clade among described taxa in the Chytridiaceae. Because thallus morphology was distinct from these other taxa, as well as other described parasites of dinoflagellates, this chytrid is described as a new genus and species, Dinochytrium kinnereticum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-743
Number of pages13
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Chytridiaceae
  • Chytridiales
  • Infectivity
  • Lake kinneret
  • Phylogenetics
  • Taxonomy
  • Zoospore ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology


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