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Phylogenetic analysis of freshwater fish trypanosomes from Europe using ssu rRNA gene sequences and random amplification of polymorphic DNA

  • W. C. GIBSON (a1), J. LOM (a2), H. PECKOVÁ (a2), V. R. FERRIS (a1) and P. B. HAMILTON (a1)...


The taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships of fish trypanosomes are uncertain. A collection of 22 cloned trypanosome isolates from 14 species of European freshwater fish and 1 species of African freshwater fish were examined by molecular phylogenetic analysis. The small subunit ribosomal RNA (ssu rRNA) genes of 8 clones were sequenced and compared with ssu rRNA gene sequences from a wider selection of vertebrate trypanosome isolates by phylogenetic analysis. All trypanosomes from freshwater fish fell in a single clade, subdivided into 3 groups. This clade sits within a larger, robust clade containing trypanosomes from marine fish and various amphibious vertebrates. All 22 trypanosome clones were analysed by random amplification of polymorphic DNA. The resulting dendrogram shows 3 groups, which are congruent with the groups identified in the ssu rRNA gene phylogeny. Two of the groups contain the majority of trypanosome isolates and within-group variation is slight. These groups do not separate purported trypanosome species distinguished by morphology or host origin, and thus these criteria do not appear to be reliable guides to genetic relationships among fish trypanosomes. However, we suggest that the 2 groups themselves may represent different species of fish trypanosomes. The polymorphic DNA markers we have identified will facilitate future comparisons of the biology of these 2 groups of fish trypanosomes.


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School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK. Tel: 44 117 928 8249. Fax: 44 117 925 7475. E-mail:


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