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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications / Hidden biodiversity in an ancient lake: phylogenetic congruence between Lake Tanganyika tropheine cichlids and their monogenean flatworm parasites

Maarten P. Vanhove, Antoine Pariselle, Maarten Van Steenberge, Joost A. Raeymaekers, Pascal I. Hablützel, Céline Gillardin, Bart Hellemans, Floris C. Breman, Stephan Koblmüller, Christian Sturmbauer, Jos Snoeks, Filip A. Volckaert and Tine Huyse (2015)

Hidden biodiversity in an ancient lake: phylogenetic congruence between Lake Tanganyika tropheine cichlids and their monogenean flatworm parasites

Scientific Reports, 5(13669).

The stunning diversity of cichlid fishes has greatly enhanced our understanding of speciation and radiation. Little is known about the evolution of cichlid parasites. Parasites are abundant components of biodiversity, whose diversity typically exceeds that of their hosts. In the first comprehensive phylogenetic parasitological analysis of a vertebrate radiation, we study monogenean parasites infecting tropheine cichlids from Lake Tanganyika. Monogeneans are flatworms usually infecting the body surface and gills of fishes. In contrast to many other parasites, they depend only on a single host species to complete their lifecycle. Our spatially comprehensive combined nuclear-mitochondrial DNA dataset of the parasites covering almost all tropheine host species (N = 18), reveals species-rich parasite assemblages and shows consistent host-specificity. Statistical comparisons of host and parasite phylogenies based on distance and topology-based tests demonstrate significant congruence and suggest that host-switching is rare. Molecular rate evaluation indicates that species of Cichlidogyrus probably diverged synchronically with the initial radiation of the tropheines. They further diversified through within-host speciation into an overlooked species radiation. The unique life history and specialisation of certain parasite groups has profound evolutionary consequences. Hence, evolutionary parasitology adds a new dimension to the study of biodiversity hotspots like Lake Tanganyika.
Peer Review, International Redaction Board, Impact Factor, Open Access
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