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J Helminthol. 2011 Mar;85(1):12-9. doi: 10.1017/S0022149X10000180. Epub 2010 Apr 1.

Host specificity of Oschmarinella rochebruni and Brachycladium atlanticum (Digenea: Brachycladiidae) in five cetacean species from western Mediterranean waters.

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Unitat de Zoologia Marina, Institut Cavanilles de Biodiversitat y Biologia Evolutiva, Universitat de València, PO Box 22085, Valencia 46071, Spain.


We investigated patterns of specificity of liver flukes (fam. Brachycladiidae) in a community of cetaceans from the western Mediterranean. The liver and pancreas of 103 striped dolphins, Stenella coeruleoalba, 18 Risso's dolphins, Grampus griseus, 14 bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, 8 common dolphins, Delphinus delphis, and 5 long-finned pilot whales, Globicephala melas, were analysed for brachycladiid species. Two species were found: Oschmarinella rochebruni in striped dolphins (prevalence (P): 61.2%; mean intensity (MI) (95% CI): 34.2 (25.7-45.6)), and Brachycladium atlanticum in striped dolphins (P: 39.8%; MI: 7.1 (4.8-13.1)) and a single individual of common dolphin (P: 12.5%; intensity: 19), which represents a new host record. A molecular analysis using the internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) region of the rDNA gene confirmed that specimens of B. atlanticum were conspecific regardless of host species. Available dietary data suggest that Risso's dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and long-finned pilot whales would contact rarely, if at all, the infective stages of O. rochebruni and B. atlanticum. Neither the prevalence nor the mean abundance of B. atlanticum differed significantly between striped and common dolphins, but a principal component analysis using seven morphometric variables indicated that specimens collected from the common dolphin were stunted. These worms also had fewer eggs compared with specimens typically found in striped dolphins, although the size of the eggs was similar in both host species. Dwarfism and low fecundity have typically been found in helminths infecting unusual host species, and might reflect the lower compatibility of B. atlanticum for common dolphins. In summary, both O. rochebruni and B. atlanticum appear to exhibit a narrow specificity for striped dolphins in the western Mediterranean.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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