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Int J Parasitol. 2005 Jun;35(7):793-801. Epub 2005 Apr 26.

Molecular-genetic analyses reveal cryptic species of trematodes in the intertidal gastropod, Batillaria cumingi (Crosse).

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Graduate School of Life Sciences University of Tohoku, Aobayama, Sendai 980-8578, Japan.


Cryptic species of the digeneans, Cercaria batillariae (Heterophyidae) and an undescribed philophthalmid, were detected using polymerase chain reaction-based restriction fragment-length polymorphism methodology and sequence analyses. These digeneans were all collected from the same species of gastropod first intermediate host, Batillaria cumingi (=Batillaria attramentaria). The mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 gene (approximately 800bp) and nuclear internal transcribed spacer 1 gene (approximately 400bp) were used for species level discrimination. Restriction fragment-length polymorphism analyses of cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 gene showed that C. batillariae included 10 distinguishable fragment patterns, and the philophthalmid included five patterns. On the basis of subsequent sequence analyses, the restriction fragment length polymorphism patterns of C. batillariae were grouped into eight phylogenetically distinct lineages and those of the philophthalmid into three phylogenetically distinct lineages. There was no evidence of gene flow among the different lineages due to the lack of heterozygosity within the observed internal transcribed spacer 1 gene fragment patterns. This suggests that all of these lineages are different species. Most of these species were widespread, but some exhibited restricted geographic distributions. We discuss the implications of these findings for host specificity of these trematodes. These results demonstrate the utility of genetic analysis to distinguish species of morphologically similar trematodes. Hence, trematode species diversity may often be underestimated when species identifications are limited to morphological features.

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