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Syst Biol. 2007 Apr;56(2):232-51.

Multiple cophylogenetic analyses reveal frequent cospeciation between pelecaniform birds and Pectinopygus lice.

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Department of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology, University of Glasgow, UK.


Lice in the genus Pectinopygus parasitize a single order of birds (Pelecaniformes). To examine the degree of congruence between the phylogenies of 17 Pectinopygus species and their pelecaniform hosts, sequences from mitochondrial 12S rRNA, 16S rRNA, COI, and nuclear wingless and EF1-alpha genes (2290 nucleotides) and from mitochondrial 12S rRNA, COI, and ATPases 8 and 6 genes (1755 nucleotides) were obtained for the lice and the birds, respectively. Louse data partitions were analyzed for evidence of incongruence and evidence of long-branch attraction prior to cophylogenetic analyses. Host-parasite coevolution was studied by different methods: TreeFitter, TreeMap, ParaFit, likelihood-ratio test, data-based parsimony method, and correlation of coalescence times. All methods agree that there has been extensive cospeciation in this host-parasite system, but the results are sensitive to the selection of different phylogenetic hypotheses and analytical methods for evaluating cospeciation. Perfect congruence between phylogenies is not found in this association, probably as a result of occasional host switching by the lice. Errors due to phylogenetic reconstruction methods, incorrect or incomplete taxon sampling, or to different loci undergoing different evolutionary histories cannot be rejected, thus emphasizing the need for improved cophylogenetic methodologies.

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