Schistosoma species have traditionally been arranged in groups based on egg morphology, geographical origins, and the genus or family of snail intermediate host. One of these groups is the ‘S. indicum group’ comprising species from Asia that use pulmonate snails as intermediate hosts. DNA sequences were obtained from the four members of this group (S. indicum, S. spindale, S. nasale and S. incognitum) to provide information concerning their phylogenetic relationships with other Asian and African species and species groups. The sequences came from the second internal transcribed spacer (ITS2) of the ribosomal gene repeat, part of the 28S ribosomal RNA gene (28S), and part of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (CO1) gene. Tree analyses using both distance and parsimony methods showed the S. indicum group not to be monophyletic. Schistosoma indicum, S. spindale and S. nasale were clustered among African schistosomes, while S. incognitum was placed as sister to the African species (using ITS2 and 28S nucleotide sequences and CO1 amino acid sequences), or as sister to all other species of Schistosoma (CO1 nucleotide sequences). Based on the present molecular data, a scenario for the evolution of the S. indicum group is discussed.
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