Unlike other members of the genus, Echinococcus granulosus is known to exhibit considerable levels of variation in biology, physiology and molecular genetics. Indeed, some of the taxa regarded as ‘genotypes’ within E. granulosus might be sufficiently distinct as to merit specific status. Here, complete mitochondrial genomes are presented of 2 genotypes of E. granulosus (G1–sheep-dog strain: G4–horse-dog strain) and of another taeniid cestode, Taenia crassiceps. These genomes are characterized and compared with those of Echinococcus multilocularis and Hymenolepis diminuta. Genomes of all the species are very similar in structure, length and base-composition. Pairwise comparisons of concatenated protein-coding genes indicate that the G1 and G4 genotypes of E. granulosus are almost as distant from each other as each is from a distinct species, E. multilocularis. Sequences for the variable genes atp6 and nad3 were obtained from additional genotypes of E. granulosus, from E. vogeli and E. oligarthrus. Again, pairwise comparisons showed the distinctiveness of the G1 and G4 genotypes. Phylogenetic analyses of concatenated atp6, nad1 (partial) and cox1 (partial) genes from E. multilocularis, E. vogeli, E. oligarthrus, 5 genotypes of E. granulosus, and using T. crassiceps as an outgroup, yielded the same results. We conclude that the sheep-dog and horse-dog strains of E. granulosus should be regarded as distinct at the specific level.
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