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Global spread of the eel parasite Gyrodactylus anguillae (Monogenea)
Hayward, C.J.; Iwashita, M.; Ogawa, K.; Ernst, I. (2001). Global spread of the eel parasite Gyrodactylus anguillae (Monogenea). Biological Invasions 3: 417-424
In: Biological Invasions. Springer: London. ISSN 1387-3547, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Marine; Brackish water; Fresh water

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  • Hayward, C.J.
  • Iwashita, M.
  • Ogawa, K.
  • Ernst, I.

    Gyrodactylus anguillae is known from four continents, and intraspecific variation in the morphology of specimens from each continent is negligible. However, morphological characters alone may not always be adequate for recognizing populations that have been isolated geographically over evolutionary time. We were unable to obtain specimens from Northeast Asia, but G. anguillae collected from North America, Europe and Australia had identical ribosomal DNA sequences (ITS1-5.8SrRNA-ITS2 region). This lack of even minor genetic variation in populations from three remote continents leads us to conclude that they share a contemporary common ancestor. This is one of at least five pests of eels to have invaded new continents as a result of the eel trade in the last four decades; these other known eel pests include Pseudodactylogyrus spp. (Monogenea) and Anguillicola spp. (Nematoda). Their dispersal has probably been secondarily augmented by longshore migration of infected eels, and perhaps also by transportation in ballast waters. The only other known gyrodactylid from eel gills, G. nipponensis from Japanese eel, is not closely related to G. anguillae, because the ITS1 region of the former is short (370 bases) and that of the latter long (685 bases). G. anguillae probably originated in Europe, because it was recorded there over 40 years ago, before the development of the international eel trade. We predict that the worm has a high potential to invade eel populations in East Africa, Southeast Asia, and New Zealand.

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