PURPOSE: The purpose is to describe the new species morphologically and molecularly and provide new information of its evolutionally relationships with other species of the subgenus.
METHODS: Standard methods of collection and examination of marine hosts, processing and illustrating of specimens, and taxonomic identification of parasites using the extensive collection of the lead author were used. Specimens were further studied using energy-dispersive X-ray analysis and ion sectioning of hooks, SEM analysis, and molecular sequencing. Type specimens were deposited at the Harold W. Manter Lab. collection, Lincoln, Nebraska.
RESULTS: Acanthogyrus (Acanthosentis) fusiformis n. sp. is described from the catfish, Arius sp. (Ariidae: Siluriformes) off the Pacific Coast of Vietnam at Bac Lieu in the Gulf of Thailand. The three other marine Indian species include A. (A.) arii Bilqees, 1971 which is also described from a similar catfish, Arius serratus Day off the Karachi coast in the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean. Our new species from Vietnam is distinguished from the other 46 species by a combination of characters including a small fusiform trunk, complete circles of small hollow spines covering the entire trunk, prominent double apical organs often extending posteriorly past posterior hooks, middle and posterior hooks of equal size slightly smaller than anterior hooks, large neck continuous with the outline of the proboscis without distinct separation, big drop-shaped cephalic ganglion, extension of the proboscis receptacle anteriorly past the base of the proboscis up to the insertion point of the posterior hooks, presence of two para-receptacle structures (PRSs), free unattached thick lemnisci, short female reproductive system with filamentous attachment of the distal end of the uterine bell to the ventral body wall, and small narrowly ellipsoid eggs with thickened polar ends. Partial sequences of the 18S and internal transcribed spacers (ITS1-5.8S-ITS2) of ribosomal RNA were generated and used for phylogenetic analyses to confirm the taxonomic identity of Acanthogyrus (Acanthosentis) fusiformis n. sp.
CONCLUSIONS: We describe unique morphological features of A. fusiformis never before known in the subgenus Acanthosentis. The uniqueness of A. fusiformis is further demonstrated by its EDXA fingerprint characterized by high levels of calcium and phosphorous in hooks. The zoogeography of species of Acanthosentis is elucidated in the Indian subcontinent, the Caribbean, China, and Africa. Molecular data have been available only in few species of Acanthogyrus (Acanthosentis) to date on GenBank database. For 18S, only two sequences from unknown Acanthosentis sp. from India are available, while for the ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 region, only sequences of A. cheni from China and of two unidentified species from Malaysia are available. Additional studies of species of Acanthosentis based on morphological and molecular genetic data will be needed to reconstruct the evolutionary history and phylogenetic affinities of this group of acanthocephalans.