Parasite–copepod interactions in Svalbard: diversity, host specificity, and seasonal patterns

Copepods of the genera Calanus and Pseudocalanus are important components of Arctic marine ecosystems. Despite the key roles of these zooplankters, little is known about the organisms they interact with most intimately, their parasites and symbionts. We applied metabarcode sequencing to uncover eukaryotic parasites present within these two copepod genera from three areas around the high Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. Ten distinct parasite groups were observed: four different Apostome ciliates, four different dinoflagellates (Chytriodinium sp., Ellobiopsis sp., Thalassomyces sp., and Hematodinium sp.), a Paradinium sp., and a trematode. Apostome ciliates closely related to Pseudocollinia spp. were the most commonly observed parasite, with overall infection rates of 21.5% in Calanus and 12.5% in Pseudocalanus. Infection by these ciliates varied seasonally, with no infections observed in early winter, but infection rates exceeding 75% in spring. Host specificity varied between parasites, with significant differences in infection rate between the two host copepod genera for four parasites (two ciliates, Chytriodinium, and a trematode). The diverse assemblage of parasites observed in these copepods, and the frequency of infection, with over one in five copepod individuals infected, suggest parasites may be playing a greater role in Arctic plankton communities than generally acknowledged.


Publication status:
Authors: Cleary, Alison C. ORCIDORCID record for Alison C. Cleary, Callesen, Trine A., Berge, Jørgen, Gabrielsen, Tove M.

On this site: Alison Cleary
1 June, 2022
Polar Biology / 45
Link to published article: