An important way to keep transgenic and mutant lines of the ascidian Ciona intestinalis, a model system for e.g. genetic functions, in laboratories is via culturing systems. Here we report a disease of C. intestinalis observed in an inland culturing system. The disease, called 'long feces syndrome,' is expressed in affected animals by the following characteristic symptoms of the digestive system: (1) excretion of long and thin feces, (2) pale color of the stomach, and (3) congestion of the digestive tube by digested material. Severely diseased animals usually die within a week after the first symptoms occur, implying a high risk of this disease for ascidian culturing systems. The digestive tubes of the diseased animals are occupied by the gregarine apicomplexan parasite Lankesteria ascidiae, suggesting that large-scale infection by this parasite is the cause of long feces syndrome.
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