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Int J Parasitol. 2012;42(3):313-21.

Mitochondrial gene order change in Schistosoma (Platyhelminthes: Digenea: Schistosomatidae).

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Department of Zoology, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 58D, UK.


In the flatworm genus Schistosoma, species of which include parasites of biomedical and veterinary importance, mitochondrial gene order is radically different in some species. A PCR-based survey of 19 schistosomatid spp. established which of 14 Schistosoma spp. have the ancestral (plesiomorphic) or derived gene order condition. A phylogeny for Schistosoma was estimated and used to infer the origin of the gene order change which is present in all members of a clade containing Schistosoma incognitum and members of the traditionally recognised Schistosoma indicum, Schistosoma mansoni and Schistosomahaematobium spp. groups. Schistosoma turkestanicum, with the plesiomorphic gene order state, is sister to this clade. Common interval analysis suggests change in gene order, from ancestral to derived, consisted of two sequential transposition events: (a) nad1_nad3 to nad3_nad1 and (b) [atp6,nad2]_[nad3,-nad1,cox1,rrnL,rrnS,cox2,nad6] to [nad3,nad1,cox1,rrnL,rrnS,cox2,nad6]_[atp6,nad2], where gene order offragments within square brackets remain unchanged. Gene order change is rare in parasitic flatworms and is a robust synapomorphy for schistosome spp. that exhibit it. The schistosomatid phylogeny casts some doubt on the origin of Schistosoma (Asian or African), highlights the propensity for species to hosts witch amongst mammalian (definitive) hosts, and indicates the likely importance of snail (intermediate)hosts in determining and defining patterns of schistosome radiation and continental invasion. Mitogenomic sampling of Schistosoma dattai and Schistosoma harinasutai to determine gene order, and within key species, especially S. turkestanicum and S. incognitum, to determine ancestral ranges, may help discover the geographic origins of gene order change in the genus. Samples of S. incognitum from India and Thailand suggest this taxon may include cryptic species.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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