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Transatlantic discovery of Notocotylus atlanticus (Digenea: Notocotylidae) based on life cycle data

TitleTransatlantic discovery of Notocotylus atlanticus (Digenea: Notocotylidae) based on life cycle data
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsGonchar, A, Jouet, D, Skirnisson, K, Krupenko, D, Galaktionov, KV
JournalParasitology Research
Start Page1445

Digenean parasites feature a series of stages with a distinct appearance, reproduction mode, and lifestyle that together constitute their well-known, complex life cycle. Species descriptions of Digenea have always been based on one of these stages-the marita, or sexually reproducing adult in the final host. However, in some cases, data on the life cycle are essential for the differential diagnosis of closely related species. Here, we present the case of Notocotylus atlanticus, where different stages of its life cycle were discovered for the first time since the species description, and across the Atlantic. We used a material from a naturally infected intertidal marine snail, Ecrobia ventrosa, and several waterfowl species and also carried out infection experiments. For morphological studies, we employed light microscopy, SEM, and CLSM; molecular data obtained include sequences of ITS1 and 28S rRNA gene. We demonstrate that N. atlanticus adult worm morphology is barely sufficient to distinguish it from several other species. Cercariae morphology and identity of the first intermediate hosts provide crucial additional information. According to our preliminary phylogenetic reconstructions, two notocotylid lineages are associated with two major gastropod lineages-the Caenogastropoda and the Heterobranchia. The traditional character to identify notocotylid genera (structure of ventral organs) fails to explain the phylogeny and thus requires reassessment. Further reliable morphological, life cycle and molecular data on other species are likely to reveal more patterns in notocotylid systematics, host specificity, and evolution.

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