Parasite phylogeographical congruence with salmon host evolutionarily significant units: implications for salmon conservation


Charles D. Criscione, Department of Genetics, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, PO Box 760549, San Antonio, TX 78245, USA. Fax: 210-258-9796; E-mail:


Comparative phylogeographical studies between parasites and their hosts or with biogeographical regions are useful to predict parasite dispersal potential over a broad geographical range. We used both microsatellite markers and mtDNA sequence data from a trematode parasite, Plagioporus shawi, to test for congruence across two evolutionarily significant unit (ESU) boundaries of its salmonid hosts (Oncorhynchus spp.). We find congruent patterns with the nuclear loci of P. shawi and the ESU boundaries of its salmonid hosts. This pattern indicates that broad-scale phylogeographical patterns of a parasite can be predicted by the biogeographical history of their hosts. Furthermore, this pattern provides independent support for these ESU boundaries as biologically relevant barriers. The mtDNA shows some discordance with nuclear loci and a level of genetic differentiation greater than can be explained by genetic drift. Thus, the mtDNA cannot be used in isolation to infer the population history of P. shawi. The genetic differentiation at both the nuclear and mtDNA markers will be useful for salmon fisheries management by providing a tool to assign ocean-migrating salmonids back to their freshwater population of origin.