The Rhipicephalus sanguineus complex is a group of closely related tick species distributed all around the world. In this study, using mitochondrial 16S ribosomal DNA, new specimens of R sanguineus sensu lato from Turkey and Rhipicephalus camicasi from Kenya, were evaluated together with available sequences of this complex in GenBank. Our objectives were to delimit the complex, re-evaluate its global phylogeny and develop a reconstruction of its biogeographic history. Given Turkey's geographical location and its neighboring status within Africa, Asia and Europe, molecular information of R. sanguineus s.l. species from this region could have important implications both on a regional and global scale. Phylogenetic trees obtained with three methods (Bayesian, Maximum Likelihood and Maximum Parsimony) were highly similar and consensus trees gave the same branching patterns and similar node support values. A total of four different clades with up to 9 Operational Taxonomic Units formed strong monophyletic groups. Biogeographic reconstructions demonstrated the importance of populations in Middle East (Turkey) in the spread of the group from Europe to Africa and Asia. Data supported previous conclusions on the existence of two species of R. sanguineus s.l. in South America and the strong molecular similarity between R. camicasi and the so-called tropical lineage of R. sanguineus s.l. These results point to the need of a re-evaluation of most specimens designated as R. sanguineus s.l. in East Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia after an adequate re-description of this taxon.
Keywords: 16S rDNA; Ancestral analyses; Phylogeny; Rhipicephalus sanguineus complex.
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