What lies behind the curtain: Cryptic diversity in helminth parasites of human and veterinary importance. Academic Article uri icon


  • Parasite cryptic species are morphologically indistinguishable but genetically distinct organisms, leading to taxa with unclear species boundaries. Speciation mechanisms such as cospeciation, host colonization, taxon pulse, and oscillation may lead to the emergence of cryptic species, influencing host-parasite interactions, parasite ecology, distribution, and biodiversity. The study of cryptic species diversity in helminth parasites of human and veterinary importance has gained relevance, since their distribution may affect clinical and epidemiological features such as pathogenicity, virulence, drug resistance and susceptibility, mortality, and morbidity, ultimately affecting patient management, course, and outcome of treatment. At the same time, the need for recognition of cryptic species diversity has implied a transition from morphological to molecular diagnostic methods, which are becoming more available and accessible in parasitology. Here, we discuss the general approaches for cryptic species delineation and summarize some examples found in nematodes, trematodes and cestodes of medical and veterinary importance, along with the clinical implications of their taxonomic status. Lastly, we highlight the need for the correct interpretation of molecular information, and the correct use of definitions when reporting or describing new cryptic species in parasitology, since molecular and morphological data should be integrated whenever possible.

published proceedings

  • Curr Res Parasitol Vector Borne Dis

altmetric score

  • 13.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Chves-Gonzlez, L. E., Morales-Calvo, F., Mora, J., Solano-Barquero, A., Verocai, G. G., & Rojas, A.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Cháves-González, Luis Enrique||Morales-Calvo, Fernando||Mora, Javier||Solano-Barquero, Alberto||Verocai, Guilherme G||Rojas, Alicia

publication date

  • June 2022