Divergence across mitochondrial genomes of sympatric members of the Schistosoma indicum group and clues into the evolution of Schistosoma spindale

Jones, B P and Norman, B F and Borrett, H E and Attwood, S W and Mondal, M M H and Walker, A J and Webster, J P and Jayanthe Rajapakse, P R V and Lawton, S P (2020) Divergence across mitochondrial genomes of sympatric members of the Schistosoma indicum group and clues into the evolution of Schistosoma spindale. Scientific Reports (Nature), 10. p. 2480.

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Abstract

Schistosoma spindale and Schistosoma indicum are ruminant-infecting trematodes of the Schistosoma indicum group that are widespread across Southeast Asia. Though neglected, these parasites can cause major pathology and mortality to livestock leading to significant welfare and socio-economic issues, predominantly amongst poor subsistence farmers and their families. Here we used mitogenomic analysis to determine the relationships between these two sympatric species of schistosome and to characterise S. spindale diversity in order to identify possible cryptic speciation. The mitochondrial genomes of S. spindale and S. indicum were assembled and genetic analyses revealed high levels of diversity within the S. indicum group. Evidence of functional changes in mitochondrial genes indicated adaptation to environmental change associated with speciation events in S. spindale around 2.5 million years ago. We discuss our results in terms of their theoretical and applied implications.