Myxobolus cerebralis is the myxozoan parasite responsible for causing whirling disease in salmonid fish. Although the parasite was first described nearly 100 yr ago, it received relatively little attention until the discovery of its 2-host life cycle in the mid 1980s. This was the first, complete, myxozoan life cycle to be described, and it was greeted with some skepticism because it united 2 stages of M. cerebralis that were previously classified in 2 separate taxa. In the last decade, there has been a renewed interest in this parasite because whirling disease has been implicated in the decline of wild trout populations in several western states in the United States. Subsequent research efforts have dramatically increased the understanding of the biology of M. cerebralis and the numerous factors that affect the severity of whirling disease in salmonid hosts. These efforts also have provided a great deal of new information concerning interactions between M. cerebralis and its aquatic oligochaete host Tubifex tubifex. This review examines the current state of M. cerebralis in relation to 3 categories: the life cycle, the salmonid hosts, and the oligochaete host.
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