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Parasitology. 2007 Jul;134(Pt 7):1057-72. Epub 2007 Feb 28.

Cryptic species of Didymobothrium rudolphii (Cestoda: Spathebothriidea) from the sand sole, Solea lascaris, off the Portuguese coast, with an analysis of their molecules, morphology, ultrastructure and phylogeny.

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Universidade de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências, Instituto de Oceanografia, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal.


Didymobothrium rudolphii (Cestoda: Spathebothriidea) was collected seasonally from the sand sole, Solea lascaris, off the northern, central and southern areas of the Portuguese coast. Morphological and molecular analyses were conducted in order to examine the possible existence of cryptic species and to facilitate the circumscription of their morphological boundaries. Data were compared between D. rudolphii specimens from each of the 3 geographical areas and 4 seasons, and principal components analysis of 18 morphological characters was used to detect differences. Two distinct genotypes were present with sequence divergences of 1.9% and 2.1% in the large subunit (lsrDNA) and second internal transcribed spacer (ITS-2) of ribosomal DNA (rDNA), respectively. The less common 'central' genotype was present only off the central area from summer to winter, whereas the 'common' genotype was present throughout the year off the northern and southern areas, but only during spring in the central area. No sequence variation was found within each genotype. The presence of 2 distinct genetic entities was supported by morphological analyses, which showed the 'central' genotype specimens to be more slender and elongate, although morphometric ranges overlapped considerably for most characters. Molecular phylogenetic analysis of 4 of the 5 known genera of the Spathebothriidea showed Spathebothrium to be the earliest branching lineage and the 2 genotypes of Didymobothrium formed a sister group to Cyathocephalus. The concordance of genetic differences with variation in host diet according to season and locality could account for sympatric speciation occurring in the central region of the Portuguese coast.

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