Overview

Brief Summary

Introduction

Anthosoma crassum is a copepod crustacean and a parasite of fish, particularly sharks.The preferred hosts are fast swimming lamniform sharks, including
  • blue shark
  • mako shark
  • white shark
but it has also been reported from the whale shark and from a bony fish, ocean sunfish (Kabata).Once on its host Anthosoma crassum burrows into the skin until it is partially buried, with only its rear end protruding from the cavity it has excavated.Shark skin is tough and the copepods often burrow into softer tissues such as the mouth, or walls of the gill chamber.Anthosoma crassum feeds on the tissues and blood of its hosts.
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Distribution

North and south Atlantic; Mediterranean; Adriatic; North and South Pacific; western part of Indian Ocean.
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This parasite has a wide distribution, mirroring that of its host sharks.It is known from:
  • North and South Atlantic, including the Mediterranean
  • North and South Pacific
  • Western Indian Ocean
The preferred hosts are fast swimming, lamniform sharks, including the blue, mako and white sharks, but it has also been reported from the whale shark and from a bony fish, ocean sunfish (Kabata).

Conservation
Shark populations are declining so their parasites, such as Anthosoma, will be affected by this decline. However, parasites are rarely accorded any conservation status.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Anthosoma crassum is a copepod crustacean that parasitises fish hosts, typically sharks.Anthosoma belongs to the Siphonostomatoida, an order of copepods characterised by their tubular sucking mouths.

Female
The female can be
  • up to 15mm in length
  • has a large head region covered by a dorsal shield
  • a trunk of 5 ill-defined segments behind the shield
The trunk is largely concealed, by overlapping plates ventrally, formed from 3 pairs of modified swimming legs, and by a pair of similar looking dorsal plates (called elytra) originating behind the head. This arrangement of plates is unique for female Anthosoma so this species is not easily confused with any other.

Male
The male is up to 10mm in length, but is similar to the female in body form although lacking the dorsal elytra covering the trunk.
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Ecology

Habitat

parasitic species (host: e.g. Carcharodon carcharias, Great White Shark)
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Trophic Strategy

Attachment feeding

Once on its host Anthosoma crassum burrows into the skin until it is partially buried, with only its rear end protruding from the cavity it has excavated.The rear end of an adult is visible embedded in the roof of the mouth, between the teeth, in this mako shark caught off St Helena (see photograph).Shark skin is tough and the copepods often burrow into softer tissues such as the mouth, or walls of the gill chamber.Anthosoma crassum attaches to the host by means of clawed antennae. These long antennae can be withdrawn into sheaths that extend back into the head of the parasite. When the antennae contract the parasite is brought into closer, more secure contact with the host.Anthosoma crassum feeds on the tissues and blood of its hosts.Anthosoma crassum uses its strongly clawed maxillipeds to pull itself into position, so the tubular mouth comes into direct contact with the skin of its host.The crustacean then rasps away at the skin using its toothed mandibles which lie within the tubular mouth.
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Lifecycle

Like all true parasites, Anthosoma crassum is dependent upon its fish host for completion of its lifecycle.
  • Females produce a pair of long cylindrical egg strings
    • each containing a single stack of flattened, disc-like eggs.
  • Eggs hatch as nauplius larvae which are
    • non-feeding
    • nourished by the yolk they contain
    • generally only 2 nauplius stages in these copepods
  • the second nauplius larva stage moults into the infective stage – the copepodid.
  • the copepodid locates a host
    • not known how
    • in related copepods parasitic on fish, host location involves
      • behaviour that initially brings the larva into the correct habitat to encounter a host, where
      • larva responds to the presence of a host detected by
        • sensing the mechanical disturbance caused by the host’s swimming
        • or visually as a shadow passing overhead.
  • The final stage of infection , recognising the correct host
    • usually depends upon detecting chemicals contained in the fish mucus or skin.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Anthosoma crassum

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


No available public DNA sequences.

Download FASTA File
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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Anthosoma crassum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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