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Historical biogeography of amphibian parasites, genus Polystoma (Monogenea: Polystomatidae)

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Abstract Aim 

The present-day geographical distribution of parasites with a direct biological life cycle is guided mostly by the past dispersal and vicariance events that have affected their hosts. The Amphibia–Polystoma association (which satisfies these criteria) also exhibits original traits, such as host specificity and world-wide distribution. This biological model was thus chosen to investigate the common historical biogeography of its widespread representatives. Location 

North and South America, Eurasia and Africa. Methods 

We investigated the phylogeny of 12 species of neobatrachian parasites sampled from North and South America, Eurasia and Africa. Hosts belonged mostly to hyloids and ranoids of families Bufonidae, Hylidae, Leptodactylidae, Ranidae and Hyperoliidae. Phylogenetic reconstructions were inferred from maximum likelihood and maximum parsimony analyses from complete ITS1 sequences. Results 

The group of American species appeared paraphyletic with one species at the base of a Eurafrican clade, within which two lineages were seen: one composed of only Eurasian species, and the other of European and African species, with the two European species basal to an African clade. Main conclusions 

The route of Polystoma evolution is deduced from the phylogenetic tree and discussed in the light of host evolution. We conclude that Polystoma originated in South America on hyloids, after the separation of South America from Africa. The genus must have colonized North America in Palaeocene times and Eurasia by the mid-Cainozoic, taking advantage of the dispersal of either ancestral bufonids or hylids. Africa, however, appears to have been colonized more recently, during the Messinian period.
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Keywords: Amphibia; Hyloidea; Monogenea; Neobatrachia; Polystomatidae; Ranoidea; historical biogeography; host-parasite evolution; phylogeny of Polystoma

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: UMR 5555 CNRS-UPVD, Parasitologie Fonctionnelle et Évolutive, Université, Perpignan Cedex, France 2: Institute of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 3: Laboratory of Parasitology, Institute of Biology and Pedology, Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladivostok, Russia

Publication date: April 1, 2006

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