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J Parasitol. 2001 Feb;87(1):32-48.

Analysis of the systematic relationships among ticks of the genera Rhipicephalus and Boophilus (Acari: Ixodidae) based on mitochondrial 12S ribosomal DNA gene sequences and morphological characters.

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1
Viral and Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.

Abstract

A portion of mitochondrial 12S rDNA sequences (337-355 base pairs) and 63 morphological characters of 36 hard-tick species belonging to 7 genera were analyzed to determine the phylogenetic relationships among groups and species of Rhipicephalus and between the genera Rhipicephalus and Boophilus. Molecular and morphological data sets were first examined separately. The molecular data were analyzed by maximum parsimony (MP), maximum likelihood, and neighbor-joining distance methods; the morphological data were analyzed by MP After their level of congruence was evaluated by a partition homogeneity test, all characters were combined and analyzed by MP. The branches of the tree obtained by combining the data sets were better resolved than those of the trees inferred from the separate analyses. Boophilus is monophyletic and arose within Rhipicephalus. Boophilus species clustered with species of the Rhipicephalus evertsi group. Most of the clustering within Rhipicephalus was, however, consistent with previous classifications based on morphological data. Morphological characters were traced on the molecular reconstruction in order to identify characters diagnostic for monophyletic clades. Within the Rhipicephalus sanguineus complex, the sequences of specimens morphologically identified as Rhipicephalus turanicus were characterized by a high level of variability, indicating that R. turanicus-like morphology may cover a spectrum of distinct species.

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