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In Russia, both alveolar and cystic echinococcoses are endemic. This study aimed to identify the aetiological agents of the diseases and to investigate the distribution of each Echinococcus species in Russia. A total of 75 Echinococcus specimens were collected from 14 host species from 2010 to 2012. Based on the mitochondrial DNA sequences, they were identified as Echinococcus granulosus sensu stricto (s.s.), E. canadensis and E. multilocularis. E. granulosus s.s. was confirmed in the European Russia and the Altai region. Three genotypes, G6, G8 and G10 of E. canadensis were detected in Yakutia. G6 was also found in the Altai region. Four genotypes of E. multilocularis were confirmed; the Asian genotype in the western Siberia and the European Russia, the Mongolian genotype in an island of Baikal Lake and the Altai Republic, the European genotype from a captive monkey in Moscow Zoo and the North American genotype in Yakutia. The present distributional record will become a basis of public health to control echinococcoses in Russia. The rich genetic diversity demonstrates the importance of Russia in investigating the evolutionary history of the genus Echinococcus.
The mitochondrial genomes of the genus Echinococcus have already been sequenced for most species and genotypes to reconstruct their phylogeny. However, two important taxa, E. felidis and E. canadensis G10 genotype (Fennoscandian cervid strain), were lacking in the published phylogeny. In this study, the phylogeny based on mitochondrial genome sequences was completed with these taxa. The present phylogeny highly supports the previous one, with an additional topology showing sister relationships between E. felidis and E. granulosus sensu stricto and between E. canadensis G10 and E. canadensis G6/G7 (closely related genotypes referred to as camel and pig strains, respectively). The latter relationship has a crucial implication for the species status of E. canadensis. The cervid strain is composed of two genotypes (G8 and G10), but the present phylogeny clearly suggests that they are paraphyletic. The paraphyly was also demonstrated by analysing the complete nucleotide sequences of mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (cox1) of E. canadensis genotypes from various localities. A haplotype network analysis using the short cox1 sequences from worldwide isolates clearly showed a close relatedness of G10 to G6/G7. Domestic and sylvatic life cycles based on the host specificity of E. canadensis strains have been important for epidemiological considerations. However, the taxonomic treatment of the strains as separate species or subspecies is invalid from a molecular cladistic viewpoint.
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