In this paper, we describe the occurrence of a microsporidian parasite in female-biased populations of an intertidal amphipod, Corophium volutator (Pallas), at mudflat sites in the Bay of Fundy, Canada. Sequence data for the parasite's 16S rDNA indicate that it is a novel microsporidian species. This parasite was found principally in female host gonads, indicating that it might be a vertically transmitted, sex-distorting microparasite. At 4 sites each sampled in early and mid-summer, parasite prevalence varied from 0 to 21%. In the lab, infected mothers gave rise to more female-biased broods, than did uninfected mothers. Infection was not associated with size of females or with lowered survivorship of their young. Surprisingly, infected mothers actually had higher fertility controlling for body length than did uninfected mothers. Taken together, our results suggest that this novel microsporidian is likely a feminizing microparasite and is a contributing factor to local and widespread sex ratio distortion in C. volutator.

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Keywords Amphipod, Feminization, Microsporidia, Sex ratio distortion, Vertical transmission
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Journal Parasitology
Mautner, S.I., Cook, K.A., Forbes, M, McCurdy, D.G., & Dunn, A.M. (2007). Evidence for sex ratio distortion by a new microsporidian parasite of a Corophiid amphipod. Parasitology, 134(11), 1567–1573. doi:10.1017/S0031182007003034