Integrative species delimitation and community structure of nematodes in three species of Australian flathead fishes (Scorpaeniformes: Platycephalidae)

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This study aimed to determine the integrative characterisation of nematodes from three species of edible flathead fishes (Scorpaeniformes: Platycephalidae) in New South Wales, Australia, and describe nematode communities within three species of flatheads. Tiger (Platycephalus richardsoni (Castelnau); n = 20) and sand flatheads (Platycephalus bassensis (Cuvier); n = 20), sourced from the Nelson Bay area, and dusky flathead (Platycephalus fuscus (Cuvier); n = 20) from the Manning River, Taree, were examined for the presence of nematodes. The nematodes were initially classified morphologically as 12 different morphotypes belonging to the families Anisakidae (Anisakis types I, II, and III, Contracaecum type II, Terranova types I and II), Raphidascarididae (Hysterothylacium types IV, VI, VIII, and H. zhoushanense larva), and Gnathostomatidae (Echinocephalus sp. larva), Capillariidae (Capillaria sp.), followed by genetic identification through sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS-1, 5.8S, ITS-2) regions. Phylogenetic analyses revealed the evolutionary relationship between the identified larval specimens in the present study with available GenBank larval and adult nematodes. Sand flathead was 90% infected with nematodes followed by tiger flathead at 85% and dusky flathead at 15%. Nematodes infecting estuarine dusky and oceanic sand and tiger flatheads contrasted markedly. The analysis of similarities (ANOSIM) showed significant differences (p < 0.001) in the composition of taxa within nematode communities between the three species of flatheads (global R = 0.208) with the highest difference being between sand and dusky flatheads (R = 0.308, p < 0.001). The findings of the present study provide a foundation for future investigations of the community composition, life cycles, and distribution of nematode populations in edible fish in Australia and explore and clarify their significance to public health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-480
Number of pages20
JournalParasitology Research
Publication statusPublished - 06 Jan 2021


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