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Parasites of Terebellids

Aaron Baldwin jsapb at gci.net
Wed Dec 8 16:00:38 EST 1999

Dear All,

As a matter of general interest, I thought I post a personal response I
recieved from Myles O'Reilly concerning parasites of Terebellids (with
author's permission).

" Your query regarding the Terebellid parsites was passed on to me by a 
colleague who subscribes to the Annelida list.  I am not a member of the 
Annelida List and do not know how to post a reply so I thought I would e-
mail you directly. (Feel free to post my comments if you wish)  

" I am a pollution monitoring biologist with about 20 years experince on 
benthos in UK waters.  For 12 years I have been collecting copepod 
parasites mostly of polychaetes, crustaceans, and molluscs.  I published a 
brief hand guide to Polychaete parasites of UK waters a few years ago 
plus a few other articles since on polychaete parasites (O'Reilly, 1991, 
1995a,1995b,1999).   From your brief description of the terebellid 
parasites I would be fairly confident that they are copepods, either of the 
family Xenocoelomidae or of the family Melinnacheridae.  

" The Xenocoelomidae has 2 genera (see Bresciani & Lutzen, 1966) and I 
have collected both in UK waters: the first contains a single species 
Aphanodomus terebellae which is endoparasitic in various terebellids, 
Thelepus being a favourite host.  Only a pair of ovisacs protrude from the 

" The second genus Xenocoeloma has 2 very similar species X.alleni, and 
X.brumpti which are ectoparasites of Polycirrus species.  They are oval, 
about 1-2mm long and devoid of any appendages except a pair of ovisacs 
when mature.   

"  The Melinnacheridae has 4 described species - Melinnacheres 
terebellidis and M. steenstrupi both occur on Terebellides stroemi (attached 
to the body or the gills respectively) while M.ergasiloides lives on Melinna 
cristata attached to the posterior thoracic segments. (The fourth species is 
from a deep water terebellid off Mexico) Descriptions of the Terebellides 
parasites are available in Bresciani, 1961.  I have material of both from the 
North Sea and the west coast of Scotland.  I have not seen M.ergasiloides 
though a good description and figure appear in Bresciani & Lutzen, 1975.  

" Without seeing your specimen or knowing its host identity I could not be 
sure where it might fit in.  These families remain poorly known and it is 
possible that you may have a new species or genus.  I have several new 
taxa already in my collection including a bizarre ecto/endoparasite of 
Jasmineira .  I would be happy to examine your parasite if you wish and 
would be interested to hear about any other copepod parasites you may 
have come across on invertebrates.   

  All for now 
 Myles O'Reilly 

Bresciani J (1961). The anatomy of a parasitic copepod Saccopsis 
steenstrupi n.sp.  Crustaceana 3:9-23  

Bresciani J & Lutzen J (1966). The anatoy of Aphanodomus terebellae with 
remarks on the family Xenocoelomidae. Bulletin du Museum National 
D'Histoire Naturelle, Paris. 37(5):787-806.  

Bresciani J & Lutzen J (1975). Melinnacheres ergasiloides M.Sars, a 
parasitic copepod of the polychaete Melinna cristata with notes on multiple 
infections caused by annelidicolous copepods.  Ophelia 13:31-41.  

O'Reilly, M.G. (1991).  A guide to polychaete-infesting copepods from 
British waters. Porcupine Newsletter 5(3):63-70.  

O'Reilly, M.G. (1995a). A new genus of copepod (Copepoda: 
Poecilostomatoida) commensal with the maldanid polychaete Rhodine 
gracilior, with a review of the Family Clausiidae.   Journal of Natural History 

O'Reilly, M.G. (1995b).  Parasitic and commensal Copepoda.  In: Benthic 
biodiversity in the southern Irish sea.  A.S.Y. Mackie, P.G. Oliver & E.I.S. 
Rees, Studies in Marine Biodiversity and Systematics from the National 
Museum of Wales. BIOMAR Reports, 1:62-69.  

O'Reilly, M.G. (1999). Notes on copepod parasites of polychaete worms in 
Scottish waters;  including the first UK records of the Californian copepod 
Spiophanicola spinosus Ho, 1984 (Poecilostomatoida: Spiophanicolidae).  
Glasgow Naturalist. 23(4):46-47, plate 3.  

Aaron & Laura Baldwin
609 Saw Mill Creek Blvd
Sitka, Alaska 99835
<jsapb at gci.net>

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