Species of Lecithodesmus (Campulidae) occur almost exclusively in baleen whales throughout a wide geographical distribution. Other campulids occur only in odontocetes and, secondarily, in pinnipeds and the sea otter. Therefore, the ancestor of Lecithodesmus might have either cospeciated with mysticetes during the early divergence of mysticete and odontocete cetaceans or originated later via host switching. We evaluate both possibilities based on a phylogenetic analysis. The ND3 mitochondrial gene sequence of a species of Lecithodesmus was included in a previous partial molecular phylogeny of the Campulidae. Fasciola hepatica and Dicrocoelium dendriticum were used as outgroups. Maximum parsimony, neighbor-joining, and maximum likelihood methods indicated a nonbasal position of Lecithodesmus sp. in the tree, suggesting that the ancestor of Lecithodesmus colonized mysticetes from campulids of odontocetes. This result emphasizes the importance of host-switching processes in the development of the helminth fauna of marine vertebrates, as previously suggested.

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