Myxosporean sleeping disease is known to cause severe mortality of masu salmon Oncorhynchus masou masou and amago salmon O. masou ishikawae farmed in Hiroshima, western Japan. Diseased fish become unable to swim, and shortly afterwards die on the bottom of the pond. The causative agent is Myxobolus sp. which infects the peripheral nerves of salmon, but its definitive identity and taxonomic status have been unresolved for years. We investigated interspecific relationships among Myxobolus spp. infecting the nerve tissues of salmonid fishes from Japan, Europe and North America. Our morphological comparisons revealed that myxospores varied in spore shape, and separated into two types: spherical (typically M. neurobius, M. kisutchi and M. neurotropus) or pyriform (typically M. arcticus and M. fryeri). Molecular analysis based on small subunit ribosomal DNA (SSU rDNA) demonstrated that Myxobolus sp. from the lateral line nerve of amago salmon with sleeping disease in Hiroshima was genetically distinct from other myxosporean species, but had 99.5% sequence similarity to Myxobolus sp. from the lateral line nerve of subclinical masu salmon in the Mena River, Hokkaido. Both myxosporeans had similar spherical-type spores. Consequently, Myxobolus sp. from the lateral line nerve of both amago and masu salmon in Hiroshima and Hokkaido are considered to be a new species, and described as M. murakamii n. sp.
2009 The Japanese Society of Fish Pathology