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The phylogeny and life cycle of two species of Profilicollis (Acanthocephala: Polymorphidae) in marine hosts off the Pacific coast of Chile

  • S.M. Rodríguez (a1), G. D'Elía (a2) and N. Valdivia (a1) (a3)

Resolving complex life cycles of parasites is a major goal of parasitological research. The aim of this study was to analyse the life cycle of two species of the genus Profilicollis, the taxonomy of which is still unstable and life cycles unclear. We extracted individuals of Profilicollis from two species of crustaceans (intermediate hosts) and four species of seagulls (definitive hosts) from sandy-shore and estuarine habitats along the south-east Pacific coast of Chile. Mitochondrial DNA analyses showed that two species of Profilicollis infected intermediate hosts from segregated habitats: while P. altmani larvae infected exclusively molecrabs of the genus Emerita from fully marine habitats, P. antarcticus larvae infected the crab Hemigrapsus crenulatus from estuarine habitats. Moreover, P. altmani completed its life cycle in four seagulls, Chroicocephalus maculipennis, Leucopheus pipixcan, Larus modestus and L. dominicanus, while P. antarcticus, on the other hand, completed its life cycle in the kelp gull L. dominicanus. Accordingly, our results show that two congeneric parasites use different and spatially segregated species as intermediate hosts, and both are capable of infecting one species of definitive hosts. As such, our analyses allow us to shed light on a complex interaction network.

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