Trypanorhynch tapeworms (Platyhelminthes: Cestoda) are among the most diverse and abundant groups of metazoan parasites of elasmobranchs and are a ubiquitous part of the marine food webs that include these apex predators. Here we present a comprehensive analysis of their phylogeny, character evolution and host associations based on 10years of sampling effort, including representatives of 12 of 15 and 44 of 66 currently recognized trypanorhynch families and genera, respectively. Using a combination of ssrDNA and lsrDNA (Domains 1-3) for 79 and 80 taxa, respectively, we maintain one-to-one correspondence between molecules and morphology by scoring 45 characters from the same specimens used for sequencing, and provide museum vouchers for this material. Host associations are examined through likelihood-based ancestral character state reconstructions (ACSRs) and by estimating dates of divergence using strict and relaxed molecular clock models in a Bayesian context. Maximum parsimony and Bayesian inference analyses of rDNA produced well-resolved and strongly supported trees in which the trypanorhynchs formed two primary lineages and were monophyletic with respect to the diphyllidean outgroup taxa. These lineages showed marked differences in their rates of divergence which in turn resulted in differing support and stability characteristics within the lineages. Mapping of morphological characters onto the tree resulting from combined analysis of rDNA showed most traits to be highly plastic, including some previously considered of key taxonomic importance such as underlying symmetries in tentacular armature. The resulting tree was found to be congruent with the most recent morphologically based superfamily designations in the order, providing support for four proposed superfamilies, but not for the Tentacularioidea and Eutetrarhynchoidea. ACSRs based on the combined analysis of rDNA estimated the original hosts of the two primary parasite lineages to be alternatively rajiform batoids and carcharhiniform sharks. This fundamental split provides independent support for rejecting the notion that rays are derived sharks, and thus supports the most recent molecular phylogenies of the Neoselachii. Beyond the basal split between shark- and ray-inhabiting lineages, no pattern was found to suggest that the trypanorhynchs have closely tracked the evolutionary histories of these host lineages, but instead, it appears that host-switching has been common and that the subsequent evolution of the parasites has been ecologically driven primarily through overlap in the niches of their shark and ray hosts. Using a relaxed molecular clock model calibrated by means of host fossil data, the ray-inhabiting lineage is estimated to have diversified around the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary, whereas the shark-inhabiting lineage is estimated to have diversified later, in the Middle Cretaceous. Although the large error associated with the estimated divergence dates prevents robust conclusions from being drawn, the dates are nevertheless found to be consistent in a relative sense with the origins of their major hosts groups. The erection and definition of the suborders Trypanobatoida and Trypanoselachoida, for the major clades of trypanorhynchs parasitizing primarily rays and sharks, respectively, is proposed for the two primary lineages recovered here.
2009. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.