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PeerJ. 2016 Feb 4;4:e1668. doi: 10.7717/peerj.1668. eCollection 2016.

Monogenean anchor morphometry: systematic value, phylogenetic signal, and evolution.

Author information

1
Institute of Mathematical Sciences, University of Malaya , Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia.
2
Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Malaya , Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia.
3
Centre for Tropical Biodiversity Research, University of Malaya , Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Anchors are one of the important attachment appendages for monogenean parasites. Common descent and evolutionary processes have left their mark on anchor morphometry, in the form of patterns of shape and size variation useful for systematic and evolutionary studies. When combined with morphological and molecular data, analysis of anchor morphometry can potentially answer a wide range of biological questions.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

We used data from anchor morphometry, body size and morphology of 13 Ligophorus (Monogenea: Ancyrocephalidae) species infecting two marine mugilid (Teleostei: Mugilidae) fish hosts: Moolgarda buchanani (Bleeker) and Liza subviridis (Valenciennes) from Malaysia. Anchor shape and size data (n = 530) were generated using methods of geometric morphometrics. We used 28S rRNA, 18S rRNA, and ITS1 sequence data to infer a maximum likelihood phylogeny. We discriminated species using principal component and cluster analysis of shape data. Adams's K mult was used to detect phylogenetic signal in anchor shape. Phylogeny-correlated size and shape changes were investigated using continuous character mapping and directional statistics, respectively. We assessed morphological constraints in anchor morphometry using phylogenetic regression of anchor shape against body size and anchor size. Anchor morphological integration was studied using partial least squares method. The association between copulatory organ morphology and anchor shape and size in phylomorphospace was used to test the Rohde-Hobbs hypothesis. We created monogeneaGM, a new R package that integrates analyses of monogenean anchor geometric morphometric data with morphological and phylogenetic data.

RESULTS:

We discriminated 12 of the 13 Ligophorus species using anchor shape data. Significant phylogenetic signal was detected in anchor shape. Thus, we discovered new morphological characters based on anchor shaft shape, the length between the inner root point and the outer root point, and the length between the inner root point and the dent point. The species on M. buchanani evolved larger, more robust anchors; those on L. subviridis evolved smaller, more delicate anchors. Anchor shape and size were significantly correlated, suggesting constraints in anchor evolution. Tight integration between the root and the point compartments within anchors confirms the anchor as a single, fully integrated module. The correlation between male copulatory organ morphology and size with anchor shape was consistent with predictions from the Rohde-Hobbs hypothesis.

CONCLUSIONS:

Monogenean anchors are tightly integrated structures, and their shape variation correlates strongly with phylogeny, thus underscoring their value for systematic and evolutionary biology studies. Our MonogeneaGM R package provides tools for researchers to mine biological insights from geometric morphometric data of speciose monogenean genera.

KEYWORDS:

Cluster analysis; Geometric morphometrics; Ligophorus; Molecular phylogeny; Monogenea; Morphological integration; Phylogenetic regression; Phylomorphospace; Principal component analysis; Shape and size variation

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