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Molecular phylogeny based on six nuclear genes suggests that Echinococcus granulosus sensu lato genotypes G6/G7 and G8/G10 can be regarded as two distinct species

  • Teivi Laurimäe (a1), Liina Kinkar (a1), Epp Moks (a1), Thomas Romig (a2), Rihab A. Omer (a3), Adriano Casulli (a4) (a5), Gérald Umhang (a6), Guna Bagrade (a7), Malik Irshadullah (a8), Mitra Sharbatkhori (a9), Hossein Mirhendi (a10), Francisco Ponce-Gordo (a11), Silvia V. Soriano (a12), Antonio Varcasia (a13), Mohammad Rostami-Nejad (a14), Vanessa Andresiuk (a15) and Urmas Saarma (a1)...

Abstract

Tapeworms of the species complex of Echinococcus granulosus sensu lato (s. l.) are the cause of a severe zoonotic disease – cystic echinococcosis, which is listed among the most severe parasitic diseases in humans and is prioritized by the World Health Organization. A stable taxonomy of E. granulosus s. l. is essential to the medical and veterinary communities for accurate and effective communication of the role of different species in this complex on human and animal health. E. granulosus s. l. displays high genetic diversity and has been divided into different species and genotypes. Despite several decades of research, the taxonomy of E. granulosus s. l. has remained controversial, especially the species status of genotypes G6–G10. Here the Bayesian phylogeny based on six nuclear loci (7387 bp in total) demonstrated, with very high support, the clustering of G6/G7 and G8/G10 into two separate clades. According to the evolutionary species concept, G6/G7 and G8/G10 can be regarded as two distinct species. Species differentiation can be attributed to the association with distinct host species, largely separate geographical distribution and low level of cross-fertilization. These factors have limited the gene flow between genotypic groups G6/G7 and G8/G10, resulting in the formation of distinct species. We discuss ecological and epidemiological differences that support the validity of these species.

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Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Urmas Saarma, E-mail: Urmas.Saarma@ut.ee

References

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