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Title: Distinct lineages of schistocephalus parasites in threespine and ninespine stickleback hosts revealed by DNA sequence analysis
Authors: Nishimura, N.
Cresko, W. A.
Heins, D. C.
Andersen, R. O.
Barber, Iain
First Published: 19-Jul-2011
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Citation: PLoS ONE, 2011, 6 (7)
Abstract: Parasitic interactions are often part of complex networks of interspecific relationships that have evolved in biological communities. Despite many years of work on the evolution of parasitism, the likelihood that sister taxa of parasites can co-evolve with their hosts to specifically infect two related lineages, even when those hosts occur sympatrically, is still unclear. Furthermore, when these specific interactions occur, the molecular and physiological basis of this specificity is still largely unknown. The presence of these specific parasitic relationships can now be tested using molecular markers such as DNA sequence variation. Here we test for specific parasitic relationships in an emerging host-parasite model, the stickleback-Schistocephalus system. Threespine and ninespine stickleback fish are intermediate hosts for Schistocephalus cestode parasites that are phenotypically very similar and have nearly identical life cycles through plankton, stickleback, and avian hosts. We analyzed over 2000 base pairs of COX1 and NADH1 mitochondrial DNA sequences in 48 Schistocephalus individuals collected from threespine and ninespine stickleback hosts from disparate geographic regions distributed across the Northern Hemisphere. Our data strongly support the presence of two distinct clades of Schistocephalus, each of which exclusively infects either threespine or ninespine stickleback. These clades most likely represent different species that diverged soon after the speciation of their stickleback hosts. In addition, genetic structuring exists among Schistocephalus taken from threespine stickleback hosts from Alaska, Oregon and Wales, although it is much less than the divergence between hosts. Our findings emphasize that biological communities may be even more complex than they first appear, and beg the question of what are the ecological, physiological, and genetic factors that maintain the specificity of the Schistocephalus parasites and their stickleback hosts.
DOI Link: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022505
ISSN: 1932-6203
eISSN: 1932-6203
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright: © 2011 Nishimura et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Biology

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