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      Insights into the relationships of Palearctic and Nearctic lymnaeids (Mollusca: Gastropoda) by rDNA ITS-2 sequencing and phylogeny of stagnicoline intermediate host species of Fasciola hepatica.


      Animals, Arctic Regions, Canada, DNA, Ribosomal, genetics, Disease Vectors, classification, Europe, Fasciola hepatica, Lymnaea, parasitology, Phylogeny, Ribotyping, Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid, Snails, Species Specificity

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          Fascioliasis by Fasciola hepatica is the vector-borne disease presenting the widest latitudinal, longitudinal and altitudinal distribution known. F. hepatica shows a great adaptation power to new environmental conditions which is the consequence of its own capacities together with the adaptation and colonization abilities of its specific vector hosts, freshwater snails of the family Lymnaeidae. Several lymnaeid species only considered as secondary contributors to the liver fluke transmission have, however, played a very important role in the geographic expansion of this disease. Many of them belong to the so-called "stagnicoline" type group. Stagnicolines have, therefore, a very important applied interest in the Holarctic region, to which they are geographically restricted. The present knowledge on the genetics of stagnicolines and on their parasite-host interrelationships is, however, far from being sufficient. The present paper analyses the relationships between Palaearctic and Nearctic stagnicoline species on the base of the new light furnished by the results obtained in nuclear rDNA ITS-2 sequencing and corresponding phylogenetic studies of the lymnaeid taxa Lymnaea (Stagnicola) occulta, L. (S.) palustris palustris (topotype specimens) and L. (S.) p. turricula from Europe. Natural infections with F. hepatica have been reported in all of them. Surprisingly, ITS-2 length and GC content of L. occulta were similar and perfectly fitted within the respective ranges known in North American stagnicolines. Nucleotide differences and genetic distances were higher between L. occulta and the other European stagnicolines than between L. occulta and the North American ones. The ITS-2 sequence of L. p. turricula from Poland differed from the other genotypes known from turricula in Europe. The phylogenetic trees using the maximum-parsimony, distance and maximum-likelihood methods confirmed (i) the inclusion of L. occulta in the branch of North American stagnicolines, (ii) the link between the North American stagnicolines-L. occulta group with Galba truncatula, and (iii) the location of the L. p. turricula genotype from Poland closer to L. p. palustris than to other European L. p. turricula genotypes. The Palaearctic species occulta is included in the genus Catascopia, together with the Nearctic species catascopium, emarginata and elodes. The results suggest a potential of transmission capacity for C. occulta higher than that of other European stagnicolines or Omphiscola glabra. The relatively low genetic distances between C. occulta and G. truncatula and the clustering of both species in the same clade suggest that C. occulta may be potentially considered as the second lymnaeid intermediate host species of F. hepatica in importance in eastern and northern Europe, and probably also western and central Asia, after G. truncatula. L. p. turricula may be considered as a potential secondary vector of F. hepatica, at a level similar to that of L. p. palustris.

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