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Multilocus phylogenetic analysis and morphological data reveal a new species composition of the genus Drepanocephalus Dietz, 1909 (Digenea: Echinostomatidae), parasites of fish-eating birds in the Americas

  • E. Hernández-Cruz (a1), J.S. Hernández-Orts (a2), A.L. Sereno-Uribe (a1), G. Pérez-Ponce de León (a1) and M. García-Varela (a1)...


Members of the genus Drepanocephalus are endoparasites of fish-eating birds of the families Phalacrocoracidae and Sulidae distributed across the Americas. Currently, Drepanocephalus contains three species, i.e. D. spathans (type species), D. olivaceus and D. auritus. Two additional species, D. parvicephalus and D. mexicanus were transferred to the genus Petasiger. In the current study, available DNA sequences of D. spathans, D. auritus and Drepanocephalus sp., were aligned with newly generated sequences of D. spathans and Petasiger mexicanus. Phylogenetic analyses inferred with three nuclear (LSU, SSU and ITS1, 5.8S, ITS2) and two mitochondrial (cox1, nad1) molecular markers showed that the sequences of D. spathans and D. auritus are nested together in a single clade with very low genetic divergence, with Petasiger mexicanus as its sister species. Additionally, P. mexicanus was not a close relative of other members of the genus Petasiger, showing that P. mexicanus actually belongs to the genus Drepanocephalus, suggesting the need to re-allocate Petasiger mexicanus back into the genus Drepanocephalus, as D. mexicanus. Morphological observations of the newly sampled individuals of D. spathans showed that the position of the testes is variable and testes might be contiguous or widely separated, which is one of the main diagnostic traits for D. auritus. Our results suggest that D. auritus might be considered a synonym of D. spathans and, as a result, the latter represents a species with a wide geographic range across the Americas, parasitizing both the Neotropical and the double-crested cormorant in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, USA and Canada.


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Author for correspondence: M. García-Varela, Fax: (525) 5550 0164; E-mail:


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Multilocus phylogenetic analysis and morphological data reveal a new species composition of the genus Drepanocephalus Dietz, 1909 (Digenea: Echinostomatidae), parasites of fish-eating birds in the Americas

  • E. Hernández-Cruz (a1), J.S. Hernández-Orts (a2), A.L. Sereno-Uribe (a1), G. Pérez-Ponce de León (a1) and M. García-Varela (a1)...


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