Characterisation of the tongue worm, Linguatula serrata (Pentastomida: Linguatulidae), in Australia

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We describe adult males and females and a nymph belonging to Linguatula serrata in Australia, based on light and scanning electron microscopies. In addition, 18S and Cox1 sequence data have also been provided and were compared with similar sequences in GenBank. Our specimens had identical 18S sequences and limited genetic distance in Cox1 region which fell within the intra-specific range observed for Linguatula spp. suggesting that they all belong to one species. Phylogenetic analyses showed that Australian specimens were grouped with L. serrata in Europe where the species was first found and described. A number of L. serrata from Iran and Bangladesh formed a distinct group. The genetic distance between these Linguatula and Australian/European L. serrata ranged from 0.46% to 2.21% which is larger than the genetic distance observed between L. arctica and Australian/European L. serrata (0.12%) suggesting that they belong to a different species. As pointed out previously by several other authors, L. serrata comprises more than one species and those from the Palearctic region (including Iran and Bangladesh) should not be automatically named L. serrata unless there is enough evidence for the identification. To accurately address the complex taxonomy of Linguatula spp. a detailed morphological and genetic characterisation of numerous developmental stages of the parasite is necessary, to ensure morphological differences are not due to development. This however may not be achievable in the near future due to significant reduction in expertise as well as research funding awarded in this area of research to understand the basics of our planet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-157
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal For Parasitology: Parasites And Wildlife
Early online date25 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


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