Haemogregarina bigemina (Protozoa : Apicomplexa: Adelorina) - Past, present and future

Davies, A.J., Smit, N.J., Hayes, P.M., Seddon, A.M. and Wertheim, D. (2004) Haemogregarina bigemina (Protozoa : Apicomplexa: Adelorina) - Past, present and future. Folia Parasitologica, 51(3), pp. 99-108. ISSN (print) 0015-5683


This paper reviews past, current and likely future research on the fish haemogregarine, Haemogregarina bigemina Laveran et Mesnil, 1901. Recorded from 96 species of fishes, across 70 genera and 34 families, this broad distribution for H. bigemina is questioned. In its type hosts and other fishes, the parasite undergoes intraerythrocytic binary fission, finally forming mature paired gamonts. An intraleukocytic phase is also reported, but not from the type hosts. This paper asks whether stages from the white cell series are truly H. bigemina. A future aim should be to compare the molecular constitution of so-called H. bigemina from a number of locations to determine whether all represent the same species. The transmission of H. bigemina between fishes is also considered. Past studies show that young fish acquire the haemogregarine when close to metamorphosis, but vertical and faecal-oral transmission seem unlikely. Some fish haemogregarines are leech-transmitted, but where fish populations with H. bigemina have been studied, these annelids are largely absent. However, haematophagous larval gnathiid isopods occur on such fishes and may be readily eaten by them. Sequential squashes of gnathiids from fishes with H. bigemina have demonstrated development of the haemogregarine in these isopods. Examination of histological sections through gnathiids is now underway to determine the precise development sites of the haemogregarine, particularly whether merozoites finally invade the salivary glands. To assist in this procedure and to clarify the internal anatomy of gnathiids, 3D visualisation of stacked, serial histological sections is being undertaken. Biological transmission experiments should follow these processes.

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