Evolution of the major lineages of tapeworms (Platyhelminthes: Cestoidea) inferred from 18S ribosomal DNA and elongation factor-1alpha

J Parasitol. 1999 Dec;85(6):1134-59.


The interrelationships of the tapeworms (Platyhelminthes: Cestoidea) were inferred by analysis of complete gene sequences (approximately 2,200 bp) of 18S small subunit ribosomal DNA (18S) and partial gene sequences (approximately 900 bp) of elongation factor-1alpha (Ef-1alpha). New collections were made of 23 species representing each of the 14 currently recognized orders of tapeworms, including the Amphilinidea, Gyrocotylidea, and the 12 orders of the Eucestoda. Sequences were determined directly from polymerase chain reaction (PCR) products by either manual or automated methods. Nucleotide sequences of platyhelminth species outside of the Cestoidea were obtained for rooting the resulting trees. The 18S sequences were aligned with reference to the secondary structural features of the gene and the Ef-1alpha sequences were aligned with reference to their corresponding amino acid residues. Significant length variation among taxa was observed in the V2, V4, and V7 variable regions of the 18S gene. Such positions where sequences could not be aligned confidently were excluded from the analyses. Third codon positions of the Ef-1alpha gene were inferred to be saturated at an ordinal level of comparison. In addition, a short (approximately 35 bp) intron region of the Ef-1alpha gene was found to be shared only among the eucestode taxa, with the exception of Spathebothrium simplex (Spathebothriidea), which lacked the intron. Complete alignments showing structural features of the genes and sites excluded from analysis are provided as appendices. The sequence data were partitioned into 7 data sets in order to examine the effects of analyses on different subsets of the data. Analyses were conducted on the 2 genes independently, different codon positions of Ef-1alpha, amino acid sequences of Ef-1alpha, and combinations thereof. All subsets of the data were analyzed under the criterion of maximum parsimony as well as minimum evolution using both maximum-likelihood estimated, and LogDet-transformed distances. Results varied among the different data partitions and methods of analysis. Nodes with strong character support, however, were consistently recovered, and a general pattern of evolution was observed. Monophyly of the Cestoidea (Amphilinidea + Gyrocotylidea + Eucestoda) and Eucestoda and the traditionally accepted positions of the Amphilinidea and Gyrocotylidea as sister lineages to the Eucestoda were supported. Within the Eucestoda, the Spathebothriidea was found to be the sister of all other eucestodes. The remaining orders generally formed a diphyletic pattern of evolution consisting of separate difossate and tetrafossate lineages. This pattern was not universally observed among the analyses, primarily because the trypanorhynch and diphyllidean taxa showed instability in their phylogenetic position. Additional relationships that showed high levels of nodal support included a sister relationship between the Pseudophyllidea and Haplobothriidea and a clade uniting the Cyclophyllidea, Nippotaeniidea, and Tetrabothriidea. The Tetraphyllidea, as currently defined, was found to be paraphyletic without the inclusion of the orders Proteocephalidea and, possibly, Lecanicephalidea. Ordinal status of a monophyletic Litobothriidea, currently classified within the Tetraphyllidea, was found to be supported from a phylogenetic perspective.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cestoda / classification*
  • Cestoda / genetics
  • DNA, Helminth / chemistry*
  • DNA, Ribosomal / chemistry*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptide Elongation Factor 1 / chemistry*
  • Peptide Elongation Factor 1 / genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / genetics
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Helminth
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • Peptide Elongation Factor 1
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF124454
  • GENBANK/AF124455
  • GENBANK/AF124456
  • GENBANK/AF124457
  • GENBANK/AF124458
  • GENBANK/AF124459
  • GENBANK/AF124460
  • GENBANK/AF124461
  • GENBANK/AF124462
  • GENBANK/AF124463
  • GENBANK/AF124464
  • GENBANK/AF124465
  • GENBANK/AF124466
  • GENBANK/AF124467
  • GENBANK/AF124468
  • GENBANK/AF124469
  • GENBANK/AF124470
  • GENBANK/AF124471
  • GENBANK/AF124472
  • GENBANK/AF124473
  • GENBANK/AF124474
  • GENBANK/AF124475
  • GENBANK/AF124476
  • GENBANK/AF124793
  • GENBANK/AF124794
  • GENBANK/AF124795
  • GENBANK/AF124796
  • GENBANK/AF124797
  • GENBANK/AF124798
  • GENBANK/AF124799