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Molecular prospecting for cryptic species in Phyllodistomum lacustri (Platyhelminthes, Gorgoderidae)


  • Rogelio Rosas-Valdez,

  • Anindo Choudhury,

  • Gerardo Pérez-Ponce De León

Corresponding author: Gerardo Pérez-Ponce de León, Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Biologia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico, E-mail:
Rogelio Rosas-Valdez, Museo de Zoología “Alfonso L. Herrera”, Departamento de Biología Evolutiva, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico. E-mail:
Anindo Choudhury, Division of Natural Sciences, St. Norbert College, 100 Grant Street, De Pere, WI 54115, USA, E-mail:


Rosas-Valdez, R., Choudhury, A. & Pérez-Ponce de León, G. (2011). Molecular prospecting for cryptic species in Phyllodistomum lacustri (Platyhelminthes, Gorgoderidae). —Zoologica Scripta, 40, 296–305.

Partial sequences of the 28S ribosomal RNA and cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) genes were compared among populations of a widely distributed and morphologically uniform digenean species in North America, Phyllodistomum lacustri, a parasite characteristically associated with ictalurid catfishes. Specimens were collected from the urinary bladder of ictalurid hosts in six localities of North America, spanning most of the latitudinal range of this freshwater fish group. Sequences of other congeneric species, including a potentially close relative, P. staffordi, were also obtained and used for comparison. Analyses of both molecular markers show very low or no intrapopulation variation within each sampling site. However, samples of P. lacustri from different hosts and regions exhibit varying levels of interpopulation genetic differences. Such differences are explained by the wide geographical distribution and host range of the ictalurids they parasitize, particularly in ictalurids distributed in Mexican freshwaters where they experienced a diversification process. Variation in both nuclear and mitochondrial genes and phylogenetic analyses, in conjunction with geographical and host information (drainage isolation and endemicity of the host species), indicate that at least three populations show potential as cryptic species.

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