Publication details

Gill monogeneans of neotropical cichlid fish: diversity, phylogenetic relationships, and host-parasite cophylogenetic associations

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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 Cichlidae; Monogenea; Phylogeny; Diversification; Host specificity; Neotropic area
Description Host-parasite coevolution is one of the main topics of the evolutionary biology of host-parasite associations. The majority of monogeneans parasitizing fish exhibit a high degree of host specificity. As a result, their evolutionary history might be intertwined with that of their fish hosts. The Cichlidae represent a diverse group of secondary freshwater fish with disjunctive distribution. Host-specific dactylogyrid monogeneans commonly parasitize cichlid fish. Their high diversity is associated with the main areas of cichlid distribution, i.e., Neotropical America and Africa. Nevertheless, the parasite fauna of cichlids from Neotropical America is still underexplored. A total of 31 cichlid species were examined for the presence of monogeneans, with 20 of them being parasitized. On these cichlids, 30 monogeneans belonging to the genera Gussevia, Trinidactylus, and Scadicleithrum were identified, 17 of them potentially representing new species for science. Phylogenetic analyses revealed three monophyletic groups of Neotropic cichlid monogeneans. Genus Gussevia was monophyletic, while Sciadicleithrum resulted polyphyletic. Sciedicleithrum from South America and Sciadicleithrum from Mexico represented two divergent lineages. The plesiomorphic Neotropical cichlid host group for dactylogyrid monogeneans was Cichlini, from which the representatives of other Neotropical cichlid tribes were colonised. Cophylogenetic analyses revealed a statistically significant cophylogenetic signal in the investigated host-parasite system, with host switch and duplication representing the main coevolutionary events for monogeneans parasitizing Neotropical cichlids. This scenario is in accordance with previous studies focussed on dactylogyridean monogeneans parasitizing freshwater fish in Europe and Africa.
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