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Unveiling patterns of genetic variation in parasite–host associations: an example with pinworms and Neotropical primates

  • Brenda Solórzano García (a1) (a2), Amanda D. Melin (a3) (a4) (a5), Filippo Aureli (a6) (a7) and Gerardo Pérez Ponce de León (a1)
Abstract

Patterns of genetic variation among populations can reveal the evolutionary history of species. Pinworm parasites are highly host specific and form strong co-evolutionary associations with their primate hosts. Here, we describe the genetic variation observed in four Trypanoxyuris species infecting different howler and spider monkey subspecies in Central America to determine if historical dispersal processes and speciation in the host could explain the genetic patterns observed in the parasites. Mitochondrial (cox1) and ribosomal (28S) DNA were analysed to assess genetic divergence and phylogenetic history of these parasites. Sequences of the 28S gene were identical within pinworms species regardless of host subspecies. However, phylogenetic analyses, haplotype relationships and genetic divergence with cox1 showed differentiation between pinworm populations according to host subspecies in three of the four Trypanoxyuris species analysed. Haplotype separation between host subspecies was not observed in Trypanoxyuris minutus, nor in Trypanoxyuris atelis from Ateles geoffoyi vellerosus and Ateles geoffoyi yucatanensis. Levels of genetic diversity and divergence in these parasites relate with such estimates reported for their hosts. This study shows how genetic patterns uncovered in parasitic organisms can reflect the host phylogenetic and biogeographic histories.

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Corresponding author
Author for correspondence: Brenda Solórzano García, E-mail: brenda_solorzano@yahoo.com.mx
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