Great Basin Naturalist


Trichophrya sp. (Protozoa) on the gills of cutthroat trout (Salmo clarki) and longnose suckers (Catostomus catostomus) was studied using light and electron microscopy and tracer techniques. All cutthroat trout, 14 cm in total length and above, from Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, were infested with the suctorian. No trichophryans were found on fry or fingerling cutthroat trout. Sixty percent of the examined longnose suckers from the same location were infested. Light microscopy disclosed extensive pathology of gill epithelium in longnose suckers infested with Trichophrya that was not observed for infested cutthroat trout. Electron micrographs show damage to immediate host gill cells by both parasites, depicted by a reduction and lack of mitochondria. Both parasites form attachment helices (0.52 × 0.04 μm), which may originate in the protozoan cell membrane and function for maintenance of parasite position on the host cell. There was no uptake of 14C, injected into host fish, via the attachment helices by the parasite that further substantiated the mechanical function for the spiral structure. Protozoan feeding on host tissue may be accomplished by use of necrotic gill tissue and mucus.