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Morphological, biometrical and molecular characterization of Archaeopsylla erinacei (Bouché, 1835)

  • A. Zurita (a1), R. Callejón (a1), M. de Rojas (a1) and C. Cutillas (a1)

In the present work, we carried out a morphological, biometrical and molecular study of the species Archaeopsylla erinacei (Bouché, 1835) and their subspecies: Archaeopsylla erinacei erinacei (Bouché, 1835) and Archaeopsylla erinacei maura (Jordan & Rothschild, 1912) isolated from hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) from different geographical regions (Seville and Corse). We have found morphological differences in females of A. erinacei from the same geographical origin that did not correspond with molecular differences. We suggest that some morphological characters traditionally used to discriminate females of both subspecies should be revised as well as we set the total length of the spermatheca as a valid criterion in order to discriminate between both subspecies. The Internal Transcribed Spacers 1 and 2 (ITS1, ITS2) and partial 18S rRNA gene, and partial cytochrome c-oxidase 1 (cox1) and cytochrome b (cytb) mtDNA gene sequences were determined to clarify the taxonomic status of these taxa and to assess intra-specific and intra-population similarity. In addition, a phylogenetic analysis with other species of fleas using Bayesian and Maximum Likelihood analysis was performed. All molecular markers used, except 18S, showed molecular differences between populations corresponding with geographical origins. Thus, based on the phylogenetic and molecular study of two nuclear markers (ITS1, ITS2) and two mitochondrial markers (cox1 and cytb), as well as concatenated sequences of both subspecies, we reported the existence of two geographical genetic lineages in A. erinacei corresponding with two different subspecies: A. e. erinacei (Corse, France) and A. e. maura (Seville, Spain), that could be discriminated by polymerase chain reaction-linked random-fragment-length polymorphism.

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