Evidence for cryptic speciation in directly transmitted gyrodactylid parasites of trinidadian guppies

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<p>Cryptic species complexes are common among parasites, which tend to have large populations and are subject to rapid evolution. Such complexes may arise through host-parasite co-evolution and/or host switching. For parasites that reproduce directly on their host, there might be increased opportunities for sympatric speciation, either by exploiting different hosts or different micro-habitats within the same host. The genus <italic>Gyrodactylus</italic> is a specious group of viviparous monogeneans. These ectoparasites transfer between teleosts during social contact and cause significant host mortality. Their impact on the guppy (<italic>Poecilia reticulata</italic>), an iconic evolutionary and ecological model species, is well established and yet the population genetics and phylogenetics of these parasites remains understudied. Using mtDNA sequencing of the host and its parasites, we provide evidence of cryptic speciation in <italic>Gyrodactylus bullatarudis</italic>, <italic>G. poeciliae</italic> and <italic>G. turnbulli</italic>. For the COII gene, genetic divergence of lineages within each parasite species ranged between 5.7 and 17.2%, which is typical of the divergence observed between described species in this genus. Different lineages of <italic>G. turnbulli</italic> and <italic>G. poeciliae</italic> appear geographically isolated, which could imply allopatric speciation. In addition, for <italic>G. poeciliae</italic>, co-evolution with a different host species cannot be discarded due to its host range. This parasite was originally described on <italic>P. caucana</italic>, but for the first time here it is also recorded on the guppy. The two cryptic lineages of <italic>G. bullatarudis</italic> showed considerable geographic overlap. <italic>G. bullatarudis</italic> has a known wide host range and it can also utilize a killifish (<italic>Anablepsoides hartii</italic>) as a temporary host. This killifish is capable of migrating overland and it could act as a transmission vector between otherwise isolated populations. Additional genetic markers are needed to confirm the presence of these cryptic <italic>Gyrodactylus</italic> species complexes, potentially leading to more in-depth genetic, ecological and evolutionary analyses on this multi-host-parasite system.</p>




Xavier, R., Faria, P. J., Paladini, G., Van Oosterhout, C., Johnson, M., & Cable, J. (2015). Evidence for cryptic speciation in directly transmitted gyrodactylid parasites of trinidadian guppies. PLoS ONE, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0117096

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