Two previously undescribed species of myxozoan parasites were observed in the gills of bass inhabiting the Potomac and James River basins. They are described using morphological characteristics and small-subunit (SSU) rDNA gene sequences. Both were taxonomically identified as new species of Myxobolus; Myxobolus branchiarum n. sp. was found exclusively in smallmouth bass, and Myxobolus micropterii n. sp. was found in largemouth and smallmouth bass. Small, spherical, white plasmodia of M. branchiarum from smallmouth bass were observed grossly in the gills; these plasmodia had an average length of 320.3 µm and width of 246.1 µm. The development of the plasmodia is intralamellar in the secondary lamellae of the gills. Mature spores were pyriform in shape with a length of 12.8 ± 1.4 (8.1–15.1) µm and width of 6.9 ± 1.1 (4.0–9.0) µm. Analysis of SSU rDNA identified M. branchiarum in a sister-group to 3 species of Henneguya, although morphologically caudal appendages were absent. Myxobolus micropterii observed in the gills of largemouth and smallmouth bass had larger, ovoid, cream-colored plasmodia with an average length of 568.1 µm and width of 148.1 µm. The cysts developed at the distal end of the gill filament within the primary lamellae. The mature spores were ovoid in shape with a length of 10.8 ± 0.7 (9.2–12.2) µm and width of 10.6 ± 0.6 (9.0–11.8) µm. SSU rDNA analysis placed M. micropterii in a sister group with Henneguya lobosa and Myxobolus oliveirai. The highest prevalence of M. branchiarum was observed in the gills of bass collected from the Cowpasture River (50.9%). Prevalence was 44.6% in bass from the Potomac River and only 4.3% in bass collected from the Shenandoah River. A seasonal study of M. branchiarum, which included both infected and uninfected smallmouth bass, determined that a significantly higher intensity was observed in the spring than in the summer (P < 0.001) or fall (P = 0.004). In an analysis excluding uninfected bass, a higher intensity was observed in the spring than in the summer (P = 0.001) or fall (P = 0.008). Prevalence and seasonal differences were not determined for M. micropterii.
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Vol. 98 • No. 2