A comparison between mitochondrial DNA and the ribosomal internal transcribed regions in prospecting for cryptic species of platyhelminth parasites
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We examined the relative merits of mitochondrial DNA loci and ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacers for their use in prospecting for cryptic species of platyhelminth parasites. Sequence divergence at ITS1 and ITS2 was compared with divergence at 2 mtDNA loci (NADH dehydrogenase-1 and cytochrome c oxidase I) between closely related species of trematodes and cestodes. Both spacers accumulated substitutions substantially more slowly than mtDNA, which clearly shows a higher level of divergence among species relative to intra-specific variation. Besides a slow rate of substitution, other caveats that may be encountered when using ITS sequences as a prospecting marker are discussed. In particular, we note recent studies that suggest the existence of substantial levels of intra-individual variation in ITS sequences of flatworms. Because it is likely that closely related species share this phenomenon, it may confound the detection of cryptic species, especially if small sample sizes are studied. Although potential limitations of mtDNA are also recognized, the higher rate of evolution and smaller effective population size of this marker increases the probability of detecting diagnostic characters between cryptic species.
author list (cited authors)
VILAS, R., CRISCIONE, C. D., & BLOUIN, M. S.