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Int J Parasitol. 2010 Mar 15;40(4):471-86. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2009.10.004. Epub 2009 Oct 22.

Phylogenetic analysis of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA reveals a complex of cryptic species in Crassicutis cichlasomae (Digenea: Apocreadiidae), a parasite of Middle-American cichlids.

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Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ap. Postal 70-275, Ciudad Universitaria, México DF 04510, Mexico.


We obtained nuclear ITS-1 and mitochondrial cox1 sequences from 225 Crassicutis cichlasomae adults collected in 12 species of cichlids from 32 localities to prospect for the presence of cryptic species. This trematode is commonly found in species of cichlids over a wide geographic range in Middle-America. Population-level phylogenetic analyses of ITS-1 and cox1, assessments of genetic and haplotype diversity, and morphological observations revealed that C. cichlasomae represents a complex of seven cryptic species for which no morphological diagnostic characters have been discovered thus far. Bayesian and Maximum Likelihood analyses of concatenated datasets (906 bp) recovered eight lineages of C. cichlasomae, all with high posterior probabilities and bootstrap branch support. Values of genetic divergence between clades ranged from 1.0% to 5.2% for ITS-1, and from 7.2% to 30.0% for cox1. Morphological study of more than 300 individuals did not reveal structural diagnostic traits for the species defined using molecular evidence. These observations indicate that some traditional morphological characters (e.g., testes position) have substantial intra-specific variation, and should be used with caution when classifying C. cichlasomae and their sister taxa. Additionally, phylogenetic analyses did not reveal a strict correlation between these cryptic species and their host species or geographic distribution, however it appears that genetic distinctiveness of these cryptic species was influenced by the diversification and biogeographical history of Middle-American cichlids.

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