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Infection, Genetics and Evolution
Volume 89, 2021, 104728

DNA barcoding of Iranian radicine freshwater snails begins to untangle the taxonomy and phylogeography of intermediate hosts of schistosomiasis and fasciolosis from the Middle East and across Central Asia

Ramtin Mirfendereskia,b, Saeid Hashemic, Salome Shiralid, Bahar Shemshadia, Scott P. Lawtone

Department of Pathobiology, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran.

Abstract

In the Middle East radicine snails are of considerable medical and veterinary importance acting as vectors of trematodes. In Iran, such snails are responsible for the transmission of the zoonotic trematodes Schistosoma turkestanicum and Fasciola gigantica. Historically, Radix gedrosiana has been incriminated as an important intermediate host for both trematodes, however, controversy remains over the snail’s true taxonomic status. This species has been determined using morphological characters that has resulted in erroneous identification of species, affecting understanding of population biology, and ultimately affecting vector incrimination. In this current study DNA barcoding using cox1 and phylogenetic analyses revealed that snails identified as R. gedrosiana from Iran split into two separate species, Radix euphratica and Ampullaceana sp. The cox1 also provided useful insights into the evolutionary history of R. euphratica populations. Phylogeographic analyses indicated that R. euphratica had an Iraqi/Iranian origin approximately 3.3 MYA and exists as a large stable population across the Middle East and Central Asia, and a lack of genetic differentiation between geographical isolates. Such molecular barcoding techniques are crucial for the identification of radicine snails of Iran being invaluable for the monitoring of zoonotic flukes, understanding the distribution of infection and the accurate incrimination of snail vectors.

Keywords: Middle East, Iran, Radix gedrosiana, Radix euphratica, Ampullaceana sp., cox1 barcoding, Phylogenetics, Phylogeography.

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