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Parasitology. 2002;124 Suppl:S23-42.

The trematodes of groupers (Serranidae: Epinephelinae): knowledge, nature and evolution.

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  • 1Centre for Marine Studies and Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


Groupers (Epinephelinae) are prominent marine fishes distributed in the warmer waters of the world. Review of the literature suggests that trematodes are known from only 62 of the 159 species and only 9 of 15 genera; nearly 90% of host-parasite combinations have been reported only once or twice. All 20 families and all but 7 of 76 genera of trematodes found in epinephelines also occur in non-epinephelines. Only 12 genera of trematodes are reported from both the Atlantic-Eastern Pacific and the Indo-West Pacific. Few (perhaps no) species are credibly cosmopolitan but some have wide distributions across the Indo-West Pacific. The hierarchical 'relatedness' of epinephelines as suggested by how they share trematode taxa (families, genera, species) shows little congruence with what is known of their phylogeny. The major determinant of relatedness appears to be geographical proximity. Together these attributes suggest that host-parasite co-evolution has contributed little to the evolution of trematode communities of epinephelines. Instead, they appear to have arisen through localized episodes of host-switching, presumably both into and out of the epinephelines. The Epinephelinae may well be typical of most groups of marine fishes both in the extent to which their trematode parasites are known and in that, apparently, co-evolution has contributed little to the evolution of their communities of trematodes.

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