Zoological Studies

Vol. 59, 2020

(update: 2020.10.14; 11.19)

Spatial Distribution of Medusa Cunina octonaria and Frequency of Parasitic Association with Liriope tetraphylla (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa: Trachylina) in Temperate Southwestern Atlantic Waters

Francisco Alejandro Puente-Tapia1,*, Florencia Castiglioni2, Gabriela Failla Siquier2, and Gabriel Genzano1


1Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras (IIMyC), Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata (FCEyN, UNMdP), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Mar del Plata, Argentina. *Correspondence: E-mail: alecspuente@gmail.com (Puente-Tapia). Tel +5492236938742.
E-mail: genzanogabriel@gmail.com (Genzano)
2Laboratotio de Zoología de Invertebrados, Departamento de Biología Animal, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay. E-mail: f.castiglioni17@gmail.com (Castiglioni); gabrielafailla@gmail.com (Failla Siquier)

Received 16 April 2020 / Accepted 27 August 2020
Communicated by Ruiji Machida

This study examined the spatial distribution of the medusae phase of Cunina octonaria (Narcomedusae) in temperate Southwestern Atlantic waters using a total of 3,288 zooplankton lots collected along the Uruguayan and Argentine waters (34–56°S), which were placed in the Medusae collection of the Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Argentina. In addition, we reported the peculiar parasitic association between two hydrozoan species: the polypoid phase (stolon and medusoid buds) of C. octonaria (parasite) and the free-swimming medusa of Liriope tetraphylla (Limnomedusae) (host) over a one-year sampling period (February 2014 to March 2015) in the coasts of Mar del Plata, Argentina. We examined the seasonality, prevalence, and intensity of parasitic infection. Metadata associated with the medusa collection was also used to map areas of seasonality where such association was observed. Cunina octonaria was found from southern Uruguay to the coast of Mar del Plata (34.8–38.2°S, 57.2–54.0°W), with the highest abundances and frequency of occurrence in the Río de la Plata estuary. The parasitic association was identified from the austral warm period (spring-summer season) until midautumn. Out of the 21,734 L. tetraphylla specimens that were examined, 316 were parasitized (prevalence = 1.5%) exclusively in the manubrium and gastric peduncle, with an infection intensity of 1 to 2 stolons per host. Furthermore, the medusoid buds per stolon ranged from 11 and 29 at different stages of development. No significant differences were observed between the umbrella diameter of parasitized and non-parasitized L. tetraphylla specimens, nor was any significant correlation identified between umbrella diameter and prevalence, and intensity of infection. According to the aggregation coefficient, C. octonaria had an overdispersed distribution in the host population. All parasitized hosts showed stomach vacuity due to the location of the stolon, which blocked the mouth of the host. We identified the parasitic association in the coasts of Mar del Plata, as well as in both coasts of the Río de la Plata Estuary (Uruguayan-Argentinean coasts). In the Southwestern Atlantic, several biological interactions between medusae and
other groups have been identified; however, the specific host selectivity of C. octonaria for L. tetraphylla was not previously identified. Here we discuss the ecological importance of this association during the holoplanktonic life history of the narcomedusae. Additionally, we report the southern limit of the spatial distribution of this particular parasitic association in the Southwestern Atlantic, thus increasing the knowledge of biological associations of gelatinous zooplankton (Cnidaria and Ctenophora) on Uruguayan and Argentinean coasts.

Key words: Gonad, Sex differentiation, Development, Anuran, Hoplobatrachus rugulosus.

Citation: Puente-Tapia FA, Castiglioni F, Siquier GF, Genzano G. 2020. Spatial distribution of medusa Cunina octonaria and frequency of parasitic association with Liriope tetraphylla (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa: Trachylina) in temperate southwestern Atlantic waters. Zool Stud 59:57. doi:10.6620/ZS.2020.59-57.