Demonstrating the value and importance of combining DNA barcodes and discriminant morphological characters for polystome taxonomy (Platyhelminthes, Monogenea)
Du Preez, Louis H.
Smith, Kevin G.
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Polystomes are monogenean parasites that infest mainly semi aquatic vertebrates, such as amphibians and chelonians. Owing to the lack of discriminative morphological characters and because polystomes are considered to be strictly host- and site-specific, host identity is often used as an additional character for parasite identification. Recent genetic studies, however, showed that polystomes infecting freshwater turtles in outdoor turtle enclosures and natural environments, were not strictly host-specific. Therefore, we proposed a new procedure for turtle polystome taxonomy based on the combination of Cytochrome c Oxydase I sequences and two discriminant morphological characters, namely the number of genital spines and the testis shape. We tested the validity of this procedure with Polystomoides oris, which was collected from the pharyngeal cavity of the American painted turtle Chrysemys picta and two undescribed species, both collected from the pharyngeal cavity of the American slider Trachemys scripta and two other European turtles, namely the European pond turtle Emys orbicularis and the Mediterranean turtle Mauremys leprosa. A Principal Component Analysis based on both morphological characters allowed the separation of all specimens in three morphological groups, which matched well with the molecular data. As a result, we describe two new polystome species, i.e., Polystomoides soredensis n. sp. and Polystomoides scriptanus n. sp