Kudoa hypoepicardialis n. sp. infects the space between the epicardium and the compact myocardium and, in intense infections, the pericardial chamber of man-of-war fish (Nomeus gronovii) (Nomeidae) (the type host), blue runner (Caranx crysos) (Carangidae), Warsaw grouper (Epinephelus nigritus) (Serranidae), Atlantic tripletail (Lobotes surinamensis) (Lobotidae), northern red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) (Lutjanidae), black drum (Pogonias cromis) (Sciaenidae), and bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix) (Pomatomidae) in the northern Gulf of Mexico. This is the first report of a Kudoa sp. from the heart of a fish in the Gulf of Mexico, and of these hosts, only the bluefish was previously identified as a host for a species of Kudoa. Spores of the new species varied slightly in size among these hosts but were regarded as conspecific based on their nearly identical (99.9%) small-subunit (SSU) ribosomal DNA (rDNA) sequence. The new species differs both from the 4 nominal species of Kudoa reported from fishes in the Gulf of Mexico and from K. pericardialis, an allopatric species that infects the pericardial cavity, by the combination of having a large spore, a small polar capsule, and a polar filament with a single coil. The new species is morphologically and genetically most similar to K. shiomitsui, an allopatric species that infects the heart and pericardial cavity, but is distinguished from it based on a 4.2% difference in the SSU rDNA sequence. Heart lesions primarily were restricted to the vicinity of plasmodia and included a layer of fibrinous inflammation characterized by lymphocytes, macrophages, and granulomas as well as epithelioid encapsulations around plasmodia. Heavily infected hosts had melanin-like deposits and adipose cells beneath the epicardium, and the epicardium was discontinuous and apparently breached by plasmodia in some regions. Cardiac muscle, gill, liver, spleen, intestine, and kidney were normal.
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