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n. Any aquatic parasite of the subphylum Myxozoa


Myxozoa ( etymology: Greek: μύξα myxa "slime" or "mucus" + thematic vowel o + ζῷον zoon "animals") is a group of aquatic, obligately parasitic cnidarian animals. Over 1300 species have been described and many have a two-host lifecycle, involving a fish and an annelid worm or a bryozoan. The average size of a myxosporean spore usually ranges from 10 μm to 20 μm, whereas that of a malacosporean spore can be up to 2 mm. Myxozoans can live in both freshwater and marine habitats.

While the evolutionary history of myxozoans is still an active area of research, it is now understood that myxozoans are highly derived Cnidarians that have undergone dramatic evolution from a free swimming, self-sufficient jellyfish-like creature into their current form of obligate parasites composed of a mere handful of cells. As myxozoans evolved into microscopic parasites, they lost many genes responsible for multicellular development, coordination, and cell-cell communication. The genomes of some myxozoans are now among the smallest genomes of any known animal species.