Publication details

From the Atlantic Coast to Lake Tanganyika: Gill-Infecting Flatworms of Freshwater Pellonuline Clupeid Fishes in West and Central Africa, with Description of Eleven New Species and Key to Kapentagyrus (Monogenea, Dactylogyridae)

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VANHOVE Maarten Pieterjan HERMANS Raquel ARTOIS Tom KMENTOVÁ Nikol

Year of publication 2021
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source ANIMALS
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Keywords Africa; biodiversity infrastructure; Clupeidae; Clupeiformes; Dactylogyridea; flatworm; historical collection; monogenea; Pellonulini; sardine
Description Simple Summary Sardines and other herring-like fishes (Clupeidae) are well-known, mostly from open seas, and globally commercially important. Their freshwater representatives receive less attention. Tropical Africa harbours over 20 species of the latter, classified under Pellonulini. These small river and lake fishes sustain locally important fisheries and are sometimes exported (inter)nationally. There is little research on them, let alone their parasites. An abundant parasite group of African freshwater clupeids is monogenean flatworms infecting their gills. Since the discoveries of the first (1969) and second species (1973) systematics of these monogeneans was ignored until 2018, when they were classified under the new genus Kapentagyrus with three species from three pellonuline species. Here, we inspected the gills of 12 West and Central African pellonulines, 10 from which there were no known parasites. We discovered and described 11 new species of Kapentagyrus. They look highly similar; distinguishing them requires measuring parts of their attachment organ. This study more than quadruples the known species richness of Kapentagyrus, and almost quadruples the number of pellonuline species of which monogeneans are known. Monogeneans are suitable tags for the lifestyle and history of their hosts. Therefore, parasitological knowledge on these poorly studied fishes will contribute to understanding data-poor African fisheries. Unlike their marine counterparts, tropical freshwater clupeids receive little scientific attention. However, they sustain important fisheries that may be of (inter)national commercial interest. Africa harbours over 20 freshwater clupeid species within Pellonulini. Recent research suggests their most abundant parasites are gill-infecting monogenean flatworms within Kapentagyrus. After inspecting specimens of 12 freshwater clupeids from West and Central Africa, mainly sourced in biodiversity collections, we propose 11 new species of Kapentagyrus, which we describe using their haptoral and genital morphology. Because of their high morphological similarity, species delineation relies mostly on the morphometrics of anchors and hooks. Specifically, earlier, molecular taxonomic work indicated that the proportion between the length of the anchor roots, and between the hook and anchor length, is diagnostic. On average, about one species of Kapentagyrus exists per pellonuline species, although Pellonula leonensis harbours four species and Microthrissa congica two, while Microthrissa moeruensis and Potamothrissa acutirostris share a gill monogenean species. This study more than quadruples the number of known species of Kapentagyrus, also almost quadrupling the number of pellonuline species of which monogeneans are known. Since members of Kapentagyrus are informative about their hosts' ecology, evolutionary history, and introduction routes, this enables a parasitological perspective on several data-poor African fisheries.
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