ABSTRACT

Sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase 1 (COI) gene of 115 Baylisascaris procyonis individuals from 13 U.S. states and 1 Canadian province were obtained from 44 raccoon hosts to assess genetic variation and geographic structure. The maximum genetic distance between individuals was low (1.6%), consistent with a single species. Moderate COI haplotype (h = 0.60) and nucleotide (π = 0.0053) diversity were found overall. Low haplotype diversity was found among samples east of the Mississippi River (h = 0.036), suggesting that historical growth and expansion of raccoon populations in this region could be responsible for high parasite gene flow or a selective sweep of B. procyonis mtDNA. There was low genetic structure (average Φst = 0.07) for samples east of the continental divide, but samples from Colorado showed higher diversity and differentiation from midwestern and eastern samples. There was marked genetic structure between samples from east and west of the continental divide, with no haplotypes shared between these regions. There was no significant isolation by distance among any of these geographic samples. The phylogeographic patterns for B. procyonis are similar to genetic results reported for their raccoon definitive hosts. The phylogeographic divergence of B. procyonis from east and west of the continental divide may involve vicariance resulting from Pleistocene glaciation and associated climate variation.

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