ABSTRACT

Adults of the genus Austrodiplostomum are parasites in cormorants of the New World, whereas metacercariae are parasites from eye globe and brain of freshwater and brackish water fishes. In this study, specimens of Austrodiplostomum mordax from South America (type-species) were analyzed together with other specimens of Austrodiplostomum spp. collected from several locations across Middle America and North America. Partial DNA sequences of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI), the internal transcribed spacers (ITS1, ITS2, and 5.8S gene), and the D2–D3, domains of the large subunit (LSU) of nuclear ribosomal DNA, were generated for both developmental stages and compared with available sequences of Austrodiplostomum spp. Phylogenetic analyses inferred with each molecular marker using maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference revealed the existence of 4 lineages representing 2 described species, A. mordax and Austrodiplostomum compactum (syn. Austrodiplostomum ostrowskiae) and 2 undescribed species of Austrodiplostomum recognized in previous studies. The COI haplotype network inferred with 172 sequences detected 28 haplotypes divided into 4 clusters, separating each other by 33 and 40 substitutions and with a genetic divergence ranging from 9 to 12%. The largest group included specimens identified as A. compactum plus those identified as A. ostrowskiae, supporting the synonymy of both species. As a result, we conclude that A. compactum is widely distributed across the Americas, in locations of the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Peru, and Brazil. The other 2 undescribed species of the genus Austrodiplostomum were previously recorded in the United States and now are reported in Mexico. These 2 species cannot be described because adult forms have not been found in their definitive hosts. Finally, the species A. mordax has been found only in some lakes from Argentina, and it was validated in this study through molecular analyses.

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