Molecular phylogeny and speciation patterns in host-specific monogeneans (Cichlidogyrus, Dactylogyridae) parasitizing cichlid fishes (Cichliformes, Cichlidae) in Lake Tanganyika

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Year of publication 2022
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source International Journal for Parasitology
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Keywords African Great Lakes; Cichlidae; Cophylogeny; Haptor; Hooks; Host range; Monogenea; Vagina
Description Cichlidogyrus (including Scutogyrus) is the most speciose dactylogyridean monogenean genus known from African and Levantine cichlid fishes (Cichlidae). While its taxonomy is well established, little is known about the phylogenetic relationships and evolutionary history of this ectoparasite, especially from hosts belonging to one of the most impressive vertebrate radiations, the cichlid fishes from the East African Great Lakes and surrounding hydrological systems. Phylogenetic inference based on DNA sequences of the nuclear 18S, internal transcribed spacer 1 and 28S rDNA genes revealed that Cichlidogyrus parasitizing mainly West African cichlid tribes is paraphyletic with respect to species parasitizing hosts belonging to the East African cichlid radiation, which constitute a well-supported monophylum. Members of Cichlidogyrus from tylochromine and oreochromine hosts that colonised Lake Tanganyika only recently, cluster with their non-Lake Tanganyika relatives, indicating that they colonised Lake Tanganyika with their current host species, and did not jump over from any of the many cichlid species already present in the lake. The diversification of Cichlidogyrus in Lake Tanganyika seems to be driven by failure to diverge in old lineages of cichlids, cospeciation in more recently evolved ones, and host switching followed by parasite duplication at the level of the various host tribes. Evaluation of host specificity and structural evolution of haptoral and reproductive organs in Lake Tanganyika Cichlidogyrus revealed that strict specialist species together with larval hook size represent the ancestral state of haptor configuration, suggesting that members of Cichlidogyrus in this system evolved from a very simple form to a more complex one similarly to their West African congeners. Generalist species among Cichlidogyrus with a sclerotized vagina parasitizing ancient Lake Tanganyika lineages seem to have developed a different hook configuration, most probably to ensure successful colonisation of new, phylogenetically unrelated hosts.
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