Recent hybridization between Taenia asiatica and Taenia saginata

Author(s): Yamane K, Suzuki Y, Tachi E, Li T, Chen X, et al.


Five Taenia tapeworms collected from humans in Tibetan Plateau, Sichuan, China, where three species of human Taenia are sympatrically endemic, were examined for the mitochondrial cox1 gene and two nuclear genes, ef1 and elp. Phylogenetic analyses of these genes revealed that two adult worms showed nuclear-mitochondrial discordance, suggesting that they originated from hybridization between Taenia saginata and Taenia asiatica. One of two worms had T. asiatica-type mtDNA, whereas another worm had T. saginata-type mtDNA, indicating that reciprocal hybridization between T. saginata and T. asiatica could occur. The worm having T. asiatica-type mtDNA was heterozygous at both nuclear loci with T. saginata-type alleles and T. asiatica-type alleles. In another worm, the ef1 locus was heterozygous with a T. saginata-type alleles and T. asiatica-type alleles, while the elp locus was homozygous with T. saginata-type alleles. Self-fertilization is the main reproductive method of the genus Taenia. Since self-fertilization represents a type of inbreeding, each locus in the offspring would become homozygous over generations with genetic drift. The fact that some nuclear loci are still heterozygous means that hybridization might have occurred recently. Hybridization between T. asiatica and T. saginata is probably an ongoing event in many areas in which they are sympatrically endemic.

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