Host-Parasite Incongruences in Rodent Eimeria Suggest Significant Role of Adaptation Rather than Cophylogeny in Maintenance of Host Specificity

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Abstract

The degree of host specificity, its phylogenetic conservativeness and origin are virtually unknown in Eimeria. This situation is largely due to the inadequate sample of eimerian molecular data available for reliable phylogenetic analyses. In this study, we extend the data set by adding 71 new sequences of coccidia infecting 16 small-mammal genera, mostly rodents. According to the respective feasibility of PCR gene amplification, the new samples are represented by one or more of the following genes: nuclear 18S rRNA, plastid ORF 470, and mitochondrial COI. Phylogenetic analyses of these sequences confirm the previous hypothesis that Eimeria, in its current morphology-based delimitation, is not a monophyletic group. Several samples of coccidia corresponding morphologically to other genera are scattered among the Eimeria lineages. More importantly, the distribution of eimerians from different hosts indicates that the clustering of eimerian species is influenced by their host specificity, but does not arise from a cophylogenetic/cospeciation process; while several clusters are specific to a particular host group, inner topologies within these clusters do not reflect host phylogeny. This observation suggests that the host specificity of Eimeria is caused by adaptive rather than cophylogenetic processes. © 2013 Kvičerová, Hypša.

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Kvičerová, J., & Hypša, V. (2013). Host-Parasite Incongruences in Rodent Eimeria Suggest Significant Role of Adaptation Rather than Cophylogeny in Maintenance of Host Specificity. PLoS ONE, 8(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0063601

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