Morphological and molecular differentiation between Dicrocoelium dendriticum (Rudolphi, 1819) and Dicrocoelium chinensis (Sudarikov and Ryjikov, 1951) Tang and Tang, 1978 (Platyhelminthes: Digenea)

Acta Trop. 2007 Nov-Dec;104(2-3):91-8. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2007.07.008. Epub 2007 Aug 1.


Dicrocoelium dendriticum (Rudolphi, 1819) and Dicrocoelium hospes (Looss, 1907) are recognised to affect the liver of domestic and wild ruminants. A third species, Dicrocoelium orientalis which was described from musk deer in the Baikal region of the former Soviet Union and re-named to Dicrocoelium chinensis (Sudarikov and Ryjikov, 1951) Tang and Tang, 1978 was isolated from other species of deer in Asian countries and from mouflon and roe deer in Europe. Scant information is available for D. chinensis, including the range of species that act as definitive and intermediate hosts. To provide morphological and molecular evidences differentiating D. chinensis versus D. dendriticum, 239 Dicrocoelium spp. specimens were collected from sheep, cattle and sika deer from different localities in Austria, Germany and Italy. Specimens were morphologically identified based on the testes orientation, overall size, and level of maximum body width and other morphometric measurements. From this sample, 10 specimens of D. chinensis and 25 of D. dendriticum from different hosts and geographical localities were characterized molecularly through sequencing of partial 18S rDNA (approximately 1400 bp) and ITS-2 (including the 5.8S and 28S flanking regions; approximately 600 bp). Interspecific differences between D. dendriticum and D. chinensis of 0.14% and 3.8% were recorded in 18S rRNA and ITS-2 sequences, respectively. Phylogenetic analyses via Bayesian inference were conducted using sequences of ITS-2 (276 bp) and partial 28S (221 bp) of the above species of Dicrocoelium together with 20 species belonging to the Xiphidiata within the Plagiorchiida available in GenBank. Both gene regions were strongly concordant in differentiating the Dicrocoeliidae, Gorgoderidae and Plagiorchiidae and were in agreement with their current classification. Morphological and molecular characterization clearly differentiate D. dendriticum and D. chinensis as two distinct digeneans infecting ruminants. The implications on the separate status of D. chinensis on the etiology, biology and diagnosis of dicrocoeliosis are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Austria
  • Cattle
  • DNA, Helminth / chemistry
  • DNA, Helminth / genetics*
  • Deer
  • Dicrocoelium / classification
  • Dicrocoelium / cytology
  • Dicrocoelium / genetics*
  • Genome, Helminth*
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 28S / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sheep
  • Species Specificity


  • DNA, Helminth
  • RNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 28S

Associated data

  • GENBANK/EF547131
  • GENBANK/EF547132