The number of Sarcocystis species that infect sea otters (Enhydra lutris) is unknown. Sea otter tissues were recently shown to harbor sarcocysts of S. neurona and of unidentified species of Sarcocystis. Whereas sarcocysts of S. neurona have walls 1–3 μm thick with type 9 villar protrusions, ultrastructure of a distinct thin-walled sarcocyst (0.5–0.7 μm thick) lacking villar protrusions, but instead exhibiting minute type 1 undulations on the sarcocyst wall, is described in this report. Parasites characterized from a sea otter infection were inferred to be related to, but distinct from, other species belonging to Sarcocystis, based on sequencing and phylogenetic analysis of a portion of the beta subunit of the plastid-encoded RNA polymerase gene.
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