Phylogenetic Affinities of Uvulifer Spp. (Digenea: Diplostomidae) in the Americas with Description of Two New Species from Peruvian Amazon

J Parasitol. 2019 Oct;105(5):704-717. doi: 10.1645/19-61.


Uvulifer Yamaguti, 1934, is a genus of diplostomoidean digeneans that parasitizes kingfishers worldwide. Species have a Neascus-type metacercaria that encysts in or on fish intermediate hosts, often causing black spot disease. Only 3 prior studies published DNA sequence data for Uvulifer species with only 1 including a single named species (Uvulifer spinatus López-Jiménez, Pérez-Ponce de León, & García-Varela, 2018). Herein we describe 2 new species of Uvulifer from the green-and-rufous kingfisher, Chloroceryle inda (Linnaeus), collected in Peru ( Uvulifer batesi n. sp. and Uvulifer pequenae n. sp.). Both new species are readily differentiated from their New World congeners by a combination of morphological characters including distribution of vitelline follicles and prosoma:opisthosoma length ratios. In addition, we used newly generated nuclear 28S rRNA and mitochondrial COI gene sequence data to differentiate among species and examine phylogenetic affinities of Uvulifer. This includes the 2 new species and Uvulifer ambloplitis (Hughes, 1927), as well as Uvulifer elongatus Dubois, 1988 , Uvulifer prosocotyle (Lutz, 1928), and Uvulifer weberi Dubois, 1985 , none of which have been part of prior molecular phylogenetic studies. Our data on Uvulifer revealed 0.1-2.2% interspecific divergence in 28S sequences and 9.3-15.3% in COI sequences. Our 28S phylogeny revealed at least 6 well-supported clades within the genus. In contrast, the branch topology in the COI phylogenetic tree was overall less supported, indicating that although COI sequences are a great tool for species differentiation, they should be used with caution for phylogenetic inference at higher taxonomic levels. Our 28S phylogeny did not reveal any clear patterns of host association between Uvulifer and particular species of kingfishers; however, it identified 2 well-supported clades uniting Uvulifer species from distant geographical locations and more than 1 biogeographic realm, indicating at least 2 independent dispersal events in the evolutionary history of the New World Uvulifer. Our results clearly demonstrate that the diversity of Uvulifer in the New World has been underestimated.

Keywords: Diplostomidae; Uvulifer batesi n. sp .; Uvulifer pequenae n. sp .; Amazon; Brazil; Chloroceryle inda; Kingfishers; Molecular Phylogeny; Peru; Uvulifer ambloplitis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Bird Diseases / parasitology*
  • Birds
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / genetics
  • Genetic Variation
  • Intestine, Small / parasitology
  • Mitochondria / enzymology
  • Peru
  • Phylogeny*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 28S / genetics
  • Rivers
  • Sequence Alignment / veterinary
  • Trematoda / anatomy & histology
  • Trematoda / classification*
  • Trematoda / genetics
  • Trematode Infections / parasitology
  • Trematode Infections / veterinary*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 28S
  • Electron Transport Complex IV