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Trends Parasitol. 2005 Oct;21(10):469-75.

Speciation in parasites: a population genetics approach.

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  • 1Parasitic Worms Division, Department of Zoology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, UK, SW7 5BD.


Parasite speciation and host-parasite coevolution should be studied at both macroevolutionary and microevolutionary levels. Studies on a macroevolutionary scale provide an essential framework for understanding the origins of parasite lineages and the patterns of diversification. However, because coevolutionary interactions can be highly divergent across time and space, it is important to quantify and compare the phylogeographic variation in both the host and the parasite throughout their geographical range. Furthermore, to evaluate demographic parameters that are relevant to population genetics structure, such as effective population size and parasite transmission, parasite populations must be studied using neutral genetic markers. Previous emphasis on larger-scale studies means that the connection between microevolutionary and macroevolutionary events is poorly explored. In this article, we focus on the spatial fragmentation of parasites and the population genetics processes behind their diversification in an effort to bridge the micro- and macro-scales.

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