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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications / A phylogeny of Cichlidogyrus species (Monogenea, Dactylogyridea) clarifies a host switch between fish families and reveals an adaptive component to attachment organ morphology of this parasite genus

Françoise D. Messu Mandeng, Charles F. Bilong Bilong, Antoine Pariselle, Maarten P. Vanhove, Arnold R. Bitja Nyom and Jean-François Agnèse (2015)

A phylogeny of Cichlidogyrus species (Monogenea, Dactylogyridea) clarifies a host switch between fish families and reveals an adaptive component to attachment organ morphology of this parasite genus

Parasites & Vectors, 8:582.

Background: Parasite switches to new host species are of fundamental scientific interest and may be considered an important speciation mechanism. For numerous monogenean fish parasites, infecting different hosts is associated with morphological adaptations, in particular of the attachment organ (haptor). However, haptoral morphology in Cichlidogyrus spp. (Monogenea, Dactylogyridea), parasites of African cichlids, has been mainly linked to phylogenetic rather than to host constraints. Here we determined the position of Cichlidogyrus amieti, a parasite of species of Aphyosemion (Cyprinodontiformes, Nothobranchiidae) in the phylogeny of its congeners in order to infer its origin and assess the morphological changes associated with host-switching events. Methods: The DNA of specimens of C. amieti isolated from Aphyosemion cameronense in Cameroon was sequenced and analyzed together with that of Cichlidogyrus spp. from cichlid hosts. In order to highlight the influence of the lateral transfer of C. amieti on the haptoral sclerotised parts we performed a Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to compare the attachment organ structure of C. amieti to that of congeners infecting cichlids. Results: Cichlidogyrus amieti was found to be nested within a strongly supported clade of species described from Hemichromis spp. (i.e. C. longicirrus and C. dracolemma). This clade is located at a derived position of the tree, suggesting that C. amieti transferred from cichlids to Cyprinodontiformes and not inversely. The morphological similarity between features of their copulatory organs suggested that C. amieti shares a recent ancestor with C. dracolemma. It also indicates that in this case, these organs do not seem subjected to strong divergent selection pressure. On the other hand, there are substantial differences in haptoral morphology between C. amieti and all of its closely related congeners described from Hemichromis spp.. Conclusions: Our study provides new evidence supporting the hypothesis of the adaptive nature of haptor morphology. It demonstrates this adaptive component for the first time within Cichlidogyrus, the attachment organs of which were usually considered to be mainly phylogenetically constrained.
Peer Review, International Redaction Board, Impact Factor, Open Access
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