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Morphometrical and molecular evidence suggests cryptic diversity among hookworms (Nematoda: Uncinaria) that parasitize pinnipeds from the south-eastern Pacific coasts

  • M.T. González (a1), Z. López (a1) (a2), J.J. Nuñez (a3), K.I. Calderón-Mayo (a4), C. Ramírez (a5), D. Morgades (a6), H. Katz (a6), M. George-Nascimento (a7) and H. Pavés (a8)...


Hookworms of the genus Uncinaria parasitize pinniped pups in various locations worldwide. Four species have been described, two of which parasitize pinniped pups in the southern hemisphere: Uncinaria hamiltoni parasitizes Otaria flavescens and Arctocephalus australis from the South American coast, and Uncinaria sanguinis parasitizes Neophoca cinerea from the Australian coast. However, their geographical ranges and host specificity are unknown. Uncinaria spp. are morphologically similar, but molecular analyses have allowed the recognition of new species in the genus Uncinaria. We used nuclear genetic markers (internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and large subunit (LSU) rDNA) and a mitochondrial genetic marker (cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI)) to evaluate the phylogenetic relationships of Uncinaria spp. parasitizing A. australis and O. flavescens from South American coasts (Atlantic and Pacific coasts). We compared our sequences with published Uncinaria sequences. A Generalized Mixed Yule Coalescent (GMYC) analysis was also used to delimit species, and principal component analysis was used to compare morphometry among Uncinaria specimens. Parasites were sampled from A. australis from Peru (12°S), southern Chile (42°S), and the Uruguayan coast, and from O. flavescens from northern Chile (24°S) and the Uruguayan coast. Morphometric differences were observed between Uncinaria specimens from both South American coasts and between Uncinaria specimens from A. australis in Peru and southern Chile. Phylogenetic and GMYC analyses suggest that south-eastern Pacific otariid species harbour U. hamiltoni and an undescribed putative species of Uncinaria. However, more samples from A. australis and O. flavescens are necessary to understand the phylogenetic patterns of Uncinaria spp. across the South Pacific.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: M.T. González, Fax.: 56-9-552637521, E-mail:


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Morphometrical and molecular evidence suggests cryptic diversity among hookworms (Nematoda: Uncinaria) that parasitize pinnipeds from the south-eastern Pacific coasts

  • M.T. González (a1), Z. López (a1) (a2), J.J. Nuñez (a3), K.I. Calderón-Mayo (a4), C. Ramírez (a5), D. Morgades (a6), H. Katz (a6), M. George-Nascimento (a7) and H. Pavés (a8)...


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