An infectious topic in reticulate evolution: introgression and hybridization in animal parasites. Academic Article uri icon


  • Little attention has been given to the role that introgression and hybridization have played in the evolution of parasites. Most studies are host-centric and ask if the hybrid of a free-living species is more or less susceptible to parasite infection. Here we focus on what is known about how introgression and hybridization have influenced the evolution of protozoan and helminth parasites of animals. There are reports of genome or gene introgression from distantly related taxa into apicomplexans and filarial nematodes. Most common are genetic based reports of potential hybridization among congeneric taxa, but in several cases, more work is needed to definitively conclude current hybridization. In the medically important Trypanosoma it is clear that some clonal lineages are the product of past hybridization events. Similarly, strong evidence exists for current hybridization in human helminths such as Schistosoma and Ascaris. There remain topics that warrant further examination such as the potential hybrid origin of polyploid platyhelminths. Furthermore, little work has investigated the phenotype or fitness, and even less the epidemiological significance of hybrid parasites.

published proceedings

  • Genes (Basel)

author list (cited authors)

  • Detwiler, J. T., & Criscione, C. D.

citation count

  • 65

complete list of authors

  • Detwiler, Jillian T||Criscione, Charles D

publication date

  • January 2010


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