The prevalence of infection of the West Australian dhufish Glaucosoma hebraicum off the lower west coast of Australia by Philometra lateolabracis was greater among females than males, which contrasts with the situation with Pagrus auratus in waters off New Zealand.
Live P. lateolabracis were represented solely by females and were found only in the gonads of fish of mature size (L50 at first maturity = c. 300 mm) caught between December and April and thus during the spawning period of dhufish. Since the gonads were largest
during that period, they, and particularly ovaries, would provide an abundant food source in the form of blood. The prevalence of the parasite (live + dead individuals) increased with host body size to reach a maximum of c. 80% in the 700–799 mm length class of females and c.
50% in the largest length class of males. During the spawning period of G hebraicum, P. lateolabracis developed from small, non‐gravid females to large gravid females, representing an increase in mass of more than 200 times. The maximum length of P. lateolabracis (470
mm) in G hebraicum is the greatest yet recorded for this species. Gonadosomatic indices provided no evidence that infection by P. lateolabracis leads to a conspicuous atrophy of the ovaries, which contrasts with the situation with the gonads of some of the teleosts infected by
Philometra species, and presumably reflects, in part, the small volume of the ovary occupied by P. lateolabracis (c. 3%) and the low intensity of infection (mean = 2.0, maximum = 7). Although the presence of live P. lateolabracis did not stimulate an obvious tissue response
by the ovaries during the spawning period of G. hebraicum, both the dead and any live parasites that remain after spawning become encapsulated in fibrous tissue.
Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research, School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, Murdoch University, Murdoch 6150, Western Australia, Australia 2:
Division of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch 6150, Western Australia, Australia