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Parasitology. 1994 Jan;108 ( Pt 1):105-14.

Molecular systematics in the acanthocephalan genus Echinorhynchus (sensu lato) in northern Europe.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, University of Helsinki, Finland.


New biological species and high levels of inter- and intraspecific genetic divergence were discovered in an allozyme study of some North European members of the acanthocephalan genus Echinorhynchus (sensu lato), parasites of fish and malacostracan crustaceans. (i) A strong differentiation between the marine E. gadi and the fresh- and brackish-water E. salmonis (genetic identity I congruent to 0) supports a generic distinction between these taxa; however, the subdivision would not entirely concur with the concepts of Echinorhynchus (sensu stricto) and Metechinorhynchus suggested earlier. (ii) Samples of E. gadi from the Baltic, Norwegian and North Seas included three distinct, partially sympatric biological species (spp. I-III; I congruent to 0.5). (iii) E. bothniensis, previously only known from the northern Baltic Sea, represents a complex of freshwater taxa with an intermediate host relationship to the 'glacial relict' Mysis spp. and with a distributional and host analogy to the North American E. leidyi. A population in a northern lake in the Barents Sea basin is closely related to E. bothniensis of the Baltic area, but is probably specifically distinct; the divergence between these populations (I congruent to 0.6) is similar to that between their Mysis host species. (iv) Considerable intraspecific differentiation (FST = 0.25), probably reflecting post-glacial population bottlenecks, was found between Baltic and nearby lacustrine E. bothniensis, and between Atlantic and Baltic E. gadi sp. I.

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