Phylogenetic relationships among the mammal-parasitic lungworms (Metastrongyloidea) were inferred using small- and large-subunit ribosomal DNA sequences together with 12S ribosomal mtDNA sequences. Maximum parsimony and Bayesian inference methods were used from optimal alignments and those filtered for alignment ambiguity. Analysis of 30 ingroup sequences using ribosomal DNA sequences yielded a single most parsimonious tree. Monophyly of the Metastrongyloidea was supported, but there was no support for monophyly of any of the 7 families as they have been traditionally defined. Parafilaroides decorus, an abursate lungworm of pinnipeds currently classified in the Filaroididae, was nested within a clade containing members of the Pseudaliidae, parasites of cetaceans. The tree also shows clades somewhat resembling the traditional familial divisions of the Metastrongyloidea, but in all groups, paraphyletic relationships were recovered. In a combined analysis of nuclear rDNA and 12S mtDNA, maximum parsimony and Bayesian analyses showed similar patterns to those observed with only nuclear rDNA sequences. Based on the phylogeny, the respiratory tract was inferred to be the ancestral predilection site for Metastrongyloidea, with multiple evolutionary invasions of extrapulmonary sites such as sinuses, circulatory system, and meninges. Similarly, the ancestral host was inferred to be a carnivore with subsequent colonization events into marsupial, rodent, artiodactyl, pinniped, and cetacean hosts.

You do not currently have access to this content.