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Barcoding hybrids: heterogeneous distribution of Schistosoma haematobium × Schistosoma bovis hybrids across the Senegal River Basin



Hybridization events between Schistosoma species (Digenea, Platyhelminthes) are reported with increasing frequency, largely due to improved access to molecular tools. Nevertheless, little is known about the distribution and frequency of hybrid schistosomes in nature. Screening for hybrids on a large scale is complicated by the need for nuclear and mitochondrial sequence information, precluding a ‘simple’ barcoding approach. Here we aimed to determine and understand the spatiotemporal distribution of Schistosoma haematobium × Schistosoma bovis hybrids in the Senegal River Basin. From ten villages, distributed over the four main water basins, we genotyped a total of 1236 schistosome larvae collected from human urine samples using a partial mitochondrial cox1 fragment; a subset of 268 parasites was also genotyped using ITS rDNA. Hybrid schistosomes were unevenly distributed, with substantially higher numbers in villages bordering Lac de Guiers than in villages from the Lampsar River and the Middle Valley of the Senegal River. The frequency of hybrids per village was not linked with the prevalence of urinary schistosomiasis in that village. However, we did find a significant positive association between the frequency of hybrids per village and the prevalence of Schistosoma mansoni. We discuss the potential consequences of adopting a barcoding approach when studying hybrids in nature.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Tine Huyse, Department of Biology, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Leuvensesteenweg 13, B-3080 Tervuren, Belgium. E-mail:


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Barcoding hybrids: heterogeneous distribution of Schistosoma haematobium × Schistosoma bovis hybrids across the Senegal River Basin



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