Background: Whilst vastly understudied, pathogens of non-native species (NNS) are increasingly recognised as important threats to native wildlife. This study builds upon recent recommendations for improved screening for pathogens in NNS by focusing on populations of Gammarus roeselii in Chojna, north-western Poland. At this location, and in other parts of continental Europe, G. roeselii is considered a well-established and relatively ‘low-impact’ invader, with little understanding about its underlying pathogen profile and even less on potential spill-over of these pathogens to native species. Results: Using a combination of histological, ultrastructural and phylogenetic approaches, we define a pathogen profile for non-native populations of G. roeselii in Poland. This profile comprised acanthocephalans (Polymorphus minutus Goese, 1782 and Pomphorhynchus sp.), digenean trematodes, commensal rotifers, commensal and parasitic ciliated protists, gregarines, microsporidia, a putative rickettsia-like organism, filamentous bacteria and two viral pathogens, the majority of which are previously unknown to science. To demonstrate potential for such pathogenic risks to be characterised from a taxonomic perspective, one of the pathogens, a novel microsporidian, is described based upon its pathology, developmental cycle and SSU rRNA gene phylogeny. The novel microsporidian Cucumispora roeselii n. sp. displayed closest morphological and phylogenetic similarity to two previously described taxa, Cucumispora dikerogammari (Ovcharenko & Kurandina, 1987), and Cucumispora ornata Bojko, Dunn, Stebbing, Ross, Kerr & Stentiford, 2015. Conclusions: In addition to our discovery extending the host range for the genus Cucumispora Ovcharenko, Bacela, Wilkinson, Ironside, Rigaud & Wattier, 2010 outside of the amphipod host genus Dikerogammarus Stebbing, we reveal significant potential for the co-transfer of (previously unknown) pathogens alongside this host when invading novel locations. This study highlights the importance of pre-invasion screening of low-impact NNS and, provides a means to document and potentially mitigate the additional risks posed by previously unknown pathogens.
Bojko, J., Bacela-Spychalska, K., Stebbing, P., Dunn, A., Grabowski, M., Rachalewski, M., & Stentiford, G. (2017). Parasites, pathogens and commensals in the “low-impact” non-native amphipod host Gammarus roeselii. Parasites and Vectors, 10, . https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071-017-2108-6