Varestrongylus (Nematoda: Protostrongylidae), lungworms of ungulates: a phylogenetic framework based on comparative morphology
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Varestrongylus Bhalerao, 1932 comprises ten valid lungworm species infecting wild and domestic ungulates from Eurasia and North America. Here, we present a phylogenetic hypothesis for the genus based on morphological characters in a broader context for the family Protostrongylidae and discuss species relationships and aspects of character evolution. Phylogenetic analysis of 25 structural attributes, including binary and multistate characters, among the 10 species of Varestrongylus resulted in one fully resolved most parsimonious tree (61 steps; consistency index = 0.672, retention index = 0.722, and consistency index excluding uninformative characters = 0.667). Varestrongylus forms a monophyletic clade and is the sister of Pneumostrongylus, supporting recognition of the subfamily Varestrongylinae. Monophyly for Varestrongylus is diagnosed by six unequivocal synapomorphies, all associated with structural characters of the copulatory system of males. Varestrongylus pneumonicus is basal, and sister to all other species within the genus, which form two subclades. The subclade I contains V. sagittatus + V. tuvae and V. qinghaiensis + V. longispiculatus. Subclade II contains V. alpenae, V. capricola, V. capreoli, and V. eleguneniensis + V. alces. Both subclades are diagnosed by two unambiguous synapomorphies. Highlighted is the continuing importance of phylogenetic assessments based on comparative morphology as a foundation to explore the structure of the biosphere across space and time.
author list (cited authors)
Verocai, G. G., Kutz, S. J., & Hoberg, E. P.