Ichthyophonus: animal meets fungi

Disease ecology, Ichthyophonus, Ichthyophonus in Pacific Herring, Research Blogs

My master’s thesis focuses on a curious little protistan parasite: Ichthyophonus hoferi. The parasite is a mesomycetozoan.

Meso: between
Myco: fungus
Zoa: animal

Hurray to a scientific name that makes sense!

This lil’ parasite was once classified as a fungus, and it’s easy to see why. Ichthyophonus can take on many shapes, many of which resemble fungi. For example, sometimes Ichthyophonus can be seen surrounded by hyphae (usually a fungal characteristic):

ichthyophonus germinating.png

Another major stage of Ichthyophonus is its schizont phase, which look pretty spore-like to many (although, in my non-fungus research focus, all spheres look spore-like to me 🤷‍♀️ )

IMG_0274

Yup. Basically everything you see is Ichthyophonus in its glorious cell-stage diversity 😍.

Ichthyophonus is more than a taxonomic puzzle, it is also a disease-causing agent in over 80 different fish species (brown trout, herrings, halibuts, much more). Stay tuned…