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We describe the infectivity, virulence, cultivating conditions, and phylogenetic positions of naturally occurring oomycete parasites of Daphnia, invertebrates which play a major role in aquatic food webs. Daphnia pulex individuals were found dead and covered by oomycete mycelia when exposed to pond sediments. We were able to extract 4 oomycete isolates from dead Daphnia and successfully cultivate them. Using the ITS and LSU rDNA sequences, we further showed these isolates to be distinct species. The isolates were experimentally demonstrated to be parasitic and not saprobic. After exposure to the parasites, Daphnia mortality was much higher than that reported for Daphnia infected with other known parasite species. Therefore, it is likely that oomycete parasites are important selective pressures in natural Daphnia populations. Moreover, their close phylogenetic relationship to parasites of fish and algae suggests that the stability of aquatic food webs (i.e. fish-Daphnia-algae) might be influenced by the shared parasite communities.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1667 - 1678


Agar, Analysis of Variance, Animals, Culture Techniques, DNA, Ribosomal, DNA, Ribosomal Spacer, Daphnia, Geologic Sediments, Molecular Sequence Data, Oomycetes, Phylogeny, Time Factors