We established monoclonal in vitro cultures of a Perkinsus sp. isolated from the baltic clam Macoma balthica and compared morphological features of various life stages by light and transmission electron microscopy to those of the currently accepted Perkinsus species: Perkinsus marinus, Perkinsus olseni, Perkinsus atlanticus, and Perkinsus qugwadi. Except that trophozoites were slightly larger than those of P. marinus, and that they underwent zoosporulation in culture, observation of our isolate under light microscopy did not reveal striking differences from any Perkinsus species. Perkinsus sp. from M. balthica shared fine structural characteristics with other Perkinsus species that clearly place it within this genus. Although zoospores of Perkinsus sp. from M. balthica were slightly smaller than those from other species, the ultrastructural arrangement and appearance of the apical complex and flagella seem to be identical to those of P. marinus and P. atlanticus. Our isolate also appeared, in some sections, to have cortical alveolar expansions of the plasmalemma at regions other than the anterior end and lobulated mitochondria that were reported as unique for P. qugwadi. Little consensus exists among authors in the assignment of taxonomic weight to any particular morphological feature to designate Perkinsus species. The present study of gross morphology and ultrastructure was complemented with molecular studies reported elsewhere, which propose that Perkinsus sp. from Macoma balthica is a distinct species.
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