Folia Parasitologica, vol. 63 (2016)

Folia Parasitologica 63:013 (2016) | 10.14411/fp.2016.013

The molecular phylogeny of the digenean family Opecoelidae Ozaki, 1925 and the value of morphological characters, with the erection of a new subfamily

Rodney A. Bray1, Thomas H. Cribb2, D. Timothy J. Littlewood1, Andrea Waeschenbach1
1 Department of Life Sciences, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, UK;
2 School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia

Large and small rDNA sequences of 41 species of the family Opecoelidae are utilised to produce phylogenetic inference trees, using brachycladioids and lepocreadioids as outgroups. Sequences were newly generated for 13 species. The resulting Bayesian trees show a monophyletic Opecoelidae. The earliest divergent group is the Stenakrinae, based on two species which are not of the type-genus. The next well-supported clade to diverge is constituted of three species of Helicometra Odhner, 1902. Based on this tree and the characters of the egg and uterus, a new subfamily, the Helicometrinae, is erected and defined to include the genera Helicometra, Helicometrina Linton, 1910 and Neohelicometra Siddiqi et Cable, 1960. The subfamily Opecoelinae is found to be monophyletic, but the Plagioporinae is paraphyletic. The single representative of the Opecoelininae (not of the type genus) is nested within a group of deep-sea 'plagioporines'. The two representatives of the Opistholebetidae are embedded within a group of shallow-water 'plagioporine' species. The Opistholebetidae is reduced to subfamily status pro tem as its morphological and biological characteristics are distinctive. This implies that as opecoelid systematics develops with more molecular evidence, several further subfamilies will be recognised. Many of the morphological characters were found to be homoplasious, but the characters defining the Helicometrinae and Opecoelinae, such as filamented eggs, reduced cirrus-sac and uterine seminal receptacle, are closely correlated with the inferred phylogeny.

Keywords: Digenea, Opecoelinae, Plagioporinae, Stenakrinae, Opecoelininae, rDNA sequence, Helicometrinae

Received: January 25, 2016; Accepted: March 18, 2016; Published online: April 20, 2016



This article contains supporting information (Figs. S1, S2) online at http://folia.paru.cas.cz/suppl/2016-63-013.pdf


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