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Occurrence and effects of the rhizocephalan parasite Diplothylacus sinensis (Cirripedia: Rhizocephala: Thomsoniidae) in the swimming crab Portunus sanguinolentus (Decapoda: Portunidae) in Honghai Bay, South China Sea

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A thompsoniid rhizocephalan parasite, Diplothylacus sinensis (Keppen, 1877), was discovered in the semi-open Honghai Bay in the South China Sea, occurring in 26.4% of 1852 (934 males and 918 females) Portunus sanguinolentus (Herbst, 1783) (Decapoda: Portunidae) collected monthly between November 2012, and October 2013. Of the sampled crabs, 243 males and 246 females were infected with externae of D. sinensis or bore attachment scars on the body surface, giving an overall prevalence of infection of 26.0% and 26.8% in male and female crabs, respectively. The infection rate changed monthly with the highest prevalence in December (50.6%) and the lowest in June (1.3%). New externae filled with eggs or embryos were observed throughout the year, which indicates a year-round reproductive cycle, but virgin externae were more commonly present in late spring or early summer. Carapace width and wet weight of infected crabs of both sexes were significantly smaller than those of uninfected crabs. Compared to normal crabs, the pleon of infected females was significantly wider and the first pleopod of parasitized males was shorter. On addition, crabs infected by the rhizocephalan parasite were more susceptible to other epibionts, which included Octolasmis warwickii Gray, 1825 (10.1%), Chelonibia patula (Ranzani, 1818) (6.8%), Obelia spp. (7.2%) and Membranipora membranacea (6.5%) on the carapace surface, and Octolasmis bullata (Aurivillius, 1894) (64.7%) on the gills.

Affiliations: 1: 1Key Laboratory of Tropical Marine Bio-resources and Ecology, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Guangzhou 510301, P.R. China


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