A pinboard by
Russell Q-Y. Yong

PhD candidate, The University of Queensland


Blood flukes (Aporocotylidae) are a family of parasitic flatworms which infect the circulatory systems of a wide range of fishes. The family includes species that infect fishes of great commercial significance, such as the highly-valuable bluefin tuna. Despite this, blood flukes are considered greatly under-surveyed, with a high potential for new species discovery.

The family has shown a high growth trend, with almost half the known species described since the turn of the century. The UQ Marine Parasitology lab has been key in this push to characterise the fauna, being responsible for half the species descriptions made since 2000. My own efforts to survey for novel blood fluke richness have been fruitful, leading to the discovery of multiple new species in fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and elsewhere in coastal tropical Australia, as well as Bali, Indonesia.

My new taxa primarily infect fishes from the order Tetraodontiformes, which includes the pufferfishes and their relatives. However, I have also discovered a complex of flukes which infect the milkfish, the most commercially-important aquacultured fish in the world. I am keenly interested in further expanding our knowledge of these parasites, and there are ample indications that many more new species remain to be discovered in the Indo-west Pacific region.


Trematodes of fishes of the Indo-west Pacific: told and untold richness

Abstract: The Indo-west Pacific is a marine bioregion stretching from the east coast of Africa to Hawaii, French Polynesia and Easter Island. An assessment of the literature from the region found reports of 2,582 trematode species infecting 1,485 fish species. Reports are concentrated in larger fishes, undoubtedly reflecting the tendency for larger hosts to be infected by more species of parasites as well as a collecting bias. Many hundreds of fish species, including many from families known to be rich in trematodes, have yet to be reported as hosts. Despite some areas (the Great Barrier Reef, Hawaii and the waters off China, India and Japan) receiving sustained attention, none can be considered to be comprehensively known. Several regions, most importantly in East Africa, French Polynesia and the Coral Triangle, are especially poorly known. The fauna of the Indo-west Pacific has been reported so unevenly that we consider it impossible to predict the true trematode richness for the region. We conclude that the greatest gap in our understanding is of the geographical distribution of species in the Indo-west Pacific. This is highlighted by the fact that 87% of trematodes in the region have been reported no more than five times. The reliable recognition of species is a major problem in this field; molecular approaches offer prospects for resolution of species identification but have been little adopted to date.

Pub.: 22 Feb '16, Pinned: 27 Jul '17

Three new species of blood flukes (Digenea: Aporocotylidae) infecting pufferfishes (Teleostei: Tetraodontidae) from off Bali, Indonesia.

Abstract: We describe three new species of blood flukes (Aporocotylidae) and propose their classification within the genus Psettarium Goto & Ozaki, 1929. All three species were collected from the circulatory systems of pufferfishes caught off Bali, central Indonesia. Psettarium pulchellum n. sp. was found in the gills of both the narrow-lined puffer (Arothron manilensis de Procé) and the spiny blaasop (Tylerius spinosissimus Regan), while Papillacarus ogawai n. sp. and P. jimbaranensis n. sp. were found in the gills of the reticulated puffer (Arothron reticularis Bloch & Schneider). The morphological characteristics of these taxa necessitated emendation of the diagnosis for the genus Psettarium, to accommodate the presence of an oral sucker, multiple or entirely post-caecal testes and a degenerate posterior testis. Features such as proportion of body length occupied by the oesophagus, and posterior caeca being ≥7× the length of anterior caeca, are no longer regarded as useful genus-level characters. Additionally, Sasala nolani is reassigned to this genus as Psettarium nolani n. comb. In phylogenetic analyses of the 28S and ITS2 rDNA regions, all three new taxa form a well-supported clade, together with Psettarium sinense and Psettarium nolani n. comb., the two other species of tetraodontid-infecting aporocotylids for which comparative rDNA data were available. The short branch lengths within this clade, despite dramatic morphological differences between the five species, suggest that rapid morphological diversification has occurred among the tetraodontid-infecting aporocotylids. The genus Psettarium has long been considered problematic. Further commentary is given on the history of this genus and how the issues presented might be resolved.

Pub.: 22 May '16, Pinned: 27 Jul '17

A complex of Cardicola Short, 1953 (Digenea: Aporocotylidae) species infecting the milkfish Chanos chanos Forsskål (Gonorynchiformes), with descriptions of two new species.

Abstract: Two new species of Cardicola Short, 1953 are described from the milkfish, Chanos chanos Forsskål (Gonorynchiformes: Chanidae), obtained from off Lizard Island on the northern Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and North Stradbroke Island in southeast Queensland. These are the first known blood flukes from this order of fishes. Cardicola suni n. sp. differs from all other Cardicola spp. by a combination of a large ovoid oral sucker surrounding a subterminal mouth, recurved tegumental spines up to 16 μm long, anterior caeca occupying 25.1-31.3% (28.7%) of total body length and a mostly-intercaecal ovary. Cardicola jiigurru n. sp. differs from C. suni n. sp. and all other species of Cardicola by a combination of a narrowly lanceolate body, weakly-muscularised and poorly-demarcated oral sucker, minute tegumental spines <1 µm in length, and anterior caeca occupying 15.9-22.0% (19.4%) of total body length, an almost entirely post-caecal ovary and the male genital pore terminal on a dorsolateral protuberance. A third species, closely resembling C. suni n. sp., was also discovered off Wangetti Beach, north Queensland, but is not described due to lack of material. Molecular phylogenetic analysis, based on both ITS2 and partial 28S rDNA regions, shows that these three species form a clade nested within that formed by existing species of Cardicola.

Pub.: 16 Oct '16, Pinned: 27 Jul '17