Abstract

A new proteocephalidean cestode is described from 2 catfishes, Clarias gariepinus (type host) and C. cf. anguillaris (Siluriformes: Clariidae), from Ethiopia (type locality), Sudan, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, and a new genus, Barsonella, is proposed to accommodate it. The genus belongs to the Proteocephalinae because its genital organs (testes, ovary, vitellarium, and uterus) are situated in the medulla. Barsonella lafoni, the type and only species of the new genus, is characterized mainly by the possession of an additional opening of each sucker; circular musculature on the anterior margin of suckers, serving as a sphincter; a small thin-walled glandular apical organ; absence of well-developed osmoregulatory canals in mature, pregravid, and gravid proglottids; and a large strobila, up to 173 mm long and 3.2 mm wide. Species of Marsypocephalus Wedl, 1861 (Marsypocephalinae), other large-sized proteocephalidean tapeworms occurring sympatrically in African catfishes (Clarias and Heterobranchus) and also possessing a sphincter-like, circular musculature on the anterior part of suckers, differ from B. lafoni in the absence of an additional sucker opening and glandular apical organ, the cortical position of the testes, well-developed osmoregulatory canals throughout the strobila, and a large cirrus sac. Proteocephalus glanduligerus (Janicki, 1928), another cestode parasitic in Clarias spp. in Africa, is much smaller than B. lafoni (maximum length 15 mm), has suckers without additional opening and circular musculature on the suckers, a large-sized glandular organ, much larger than suckers, and well-developed osmoregulatory canals. Comparison of partial sequences of the 28S rRNA gene for 7 samples of B. lafoni from 2 different hosts and 4 localities in Ethiopia, Sudan, and Tanzania has shown a very low genetic variability. In a limited phylogenetic analysis, B. lafoni formed a clade with Corallobothrium solidum Fritsch, 1886 (Proteocephalidae: Corallobothriinae), an African electric catfish parasite. This clade was the sister group of almost all Neotropical taxa from pimelodid and other catfishes.

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