Publication details

Dactylogyridae 2022: a meta-analysis of phylogenetic studies and generic diagnoses of parasitic flatworms using published genetic and morphological data

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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 Monogenea; Parasitic flatworms; Biogeography; Host-parasite interactions
Description Dactylogyridae is one of the most studied families of parasitic flatworms with more than 1000 species and 166 genera described to date including ecto- and endoparasites. Dactylogyrid monogeneans were suggested as model organisms for host-parasite macroevolutionary and biogeographical studies due to the scientific and economic importance of some of their host lineages. Consequently, an array of phylogenetic research into different dactylogyrid lineages has been produced over the past years but the last family-wide study was published 16 years ago. Here, we provide a meta-analysis of the phylogenetic relationships of Dactylogyridae including representatives of all genera with available molecular data (n = 67). First, we investigate the systematic informativeness of morphological characters widely used to diagnose dactylogyrid genera through a parsimony analysis of the characters, character mapping, and phylogenetic comparative methods. Second, we provide an overview of the current state of the systematics of the family and its subfamilies, and summarise potentially poly- and paraphyletic genera. Third, we elaborate on the implications of taxonomic, citation, and confirmation bias in past studies. Fourth, we discuss host range, biogeographical, and freshwater-marine patterns. We found two well-supported macroclades which we assigned to the subfamilies Dactylogyrinae and Ancyrocephalinae. These subfamilies further include 16 well-supported clades with only a few synapomorphies that could be deduced from generic diagnoses in the literature. Furthermore, few morphological characters considered systematically informative at the genus level display a strong phylogenetic signal. However, the parsimony analysis suggests that these characters provide little information on the relationships between genera. We conclude that a strong taxonomic bias and low coverage of DNA sequences and regions limit knowledge on morphological and biogeographical evolutionary patterns that can be inferred from these results. We propose addressing potential citation and confirmation biases through a ‘level playing field’ multiple sequence alignment as provided by this study.
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