Adult tetraphyllidean tapeworms (Platyhelminthes: Eucestoda) from the spiral intestines of 3 species of potamotrygonid stingrays (Paratrygon aiereba, Potamotrygon castexi, and Potamotrygon motoro) in the Madre de Dios river in Peru were found to host numerous cysts embedded in their parenchymal tissues. Histological sections of the cysts revealed the presence of a scolex bearing 4 suckers and an unarmed apical organ consistent with larval stages of both Cyclophyllidea and Proteocephalidea. To further elucidate their identities, partial 28S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) sequences were characterized from 3 cysts and 4 adult Rhinebothrium spp. ‘host’ worms and screened against all available cestode 28S rDNA data. Initial BLAST screening and subsequent alignment ruled out the possibility that the cysts were cyclophyllidean, and the cyst and adult sequences were thus aligned together with all available lecanicephalidean, litobothriidean, proteocephalidean, and tetraphyllidean sequences. Sequences from all 3 cysts were identical, and phylogenetic analysis clearly placed them among derived members of the Proteocephalidea, although no exact match was found. Sequences from the adult host worms formed 2 identical pairs and grouped together with other tetraphyllidean species from rays. These results are compared with records of hyperparasites of South American catfish cestodes. This is the first confirmed record of a proteocephalidean cestode parasitizing a tetraphyllidean cestode.
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