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Reviewing lymnaeid vectors of fascioliasis by ribosomal DNA sequence analyses

  • M.D. Bargues (a1) and S. Mas-Coma (a1)

Abstract

Snails of the family Lymnaeidae are of great parasitological importance due to the numerous helminth species they transmit, mainly trematodiases (such as fascioliasis) of considerable medical and veterinary impact. The present knowledge of the genetics and host–parasite relationships of this gastropod group is far from adequate. Fascioliasis is caused by two species, Fasciola hepatica and F. gigantica, which, as in the case of other trematodes, show a marked snail host specificity. Many lymnaeid species involved in fascioliasis transmission still show a confused systematic-taxonomic status. The need for tools to distinguish and characterize species and populations of lymnaeids is evident and the present review concerns new molecular tools developed in recent years using nuclear ribosomal DNA sequences. The small subunit or 18S gene and the internal transcribed spacers ITS-2 and ITS-1 are analysed and evaluated as markers for taxon differentiation and relationships within the Lymnaeidae from genus and species levels to subspecies and population levels. rDNA sequence differences and genetic distances, and their value for reconstructing phylogenetic trees using different methods are considered. Nuclear rDNA sequences are appropriate tools on which to base a review of the systematics and taxonomy of the family Lymnaeidae, without excluding other valuable snail characteristics already available. A reconstruction of the lymnaeid system towards a more natural classification will undoubtedly be helpful in understanding parasite transmission and epidemiological features as well the dispersion of an emerging-reemerging disease such as fascioliasis. Nomenclature for nuclear rDNA genotyping in lymnaeids includes the main rDNA sequence regions able to furnish important information on interspecific differentiation and grouping as well as intraspecific variability of lymnaeid species. The composite haplotype code includes the rDNA markers arranged in order according to their well-known usefulness, in its turn related to their respective, more or less rapid evolutionary ratios, to distinguish between different taxonomic levels, from supraspecific taxa to the species level and up to the population level.

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*Fax: 00 34 96 3544769 E-mail: M.D.Bargues@uv.es

References

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Reviewing lymnaeid vectors of fascioliasis by ribosomal DNA sequence analyses

  • M.D. Bargues (a1) and S. Mas-Coma (a1)

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