During a survey of the helminth community of several rodent species in the Morogoro region (Tanzania), Trichuris whipworms (Nematoda: Trichuridae) were found in the ceca of the Natal multimammate mouse, Mastomys natalensis and a gerbil, Gerbilliscus vicinus (both Rodentia: Muridae). The taxonomic literature regarding Trichuris from African native rodents describes 10 species, but includes few metric and morphologic characters that discriminate between some of the pairs. The whipworms we sampled in Tanzanian Natal multimammate mice and gerbils were morphologically identified, respectively, as Trichuris mastomysi Verster, 1960 and Trichuris carlieri Gedoelst, 1916 sensu lato, but with characters that overlap or partially overlap with the cosmopolitan Murinae whipworm, Trichuris muris, already reported from several rodents in Africa. To clarify our identification, we sequenced the ITS-1, 5.8S, and ITS-2 ribosomal DNA region of the worms' nuclear genome. The genetic analyses clearly distinguish the whipworms we found in M. natalensis from those found in the gerbil, and both of these from T. muris whipworm reference sequences. The overlap of morphological characters between rodent whipworms suggests that reports of T. muris from rodent species not closely related to Murinae in other parts of Africa should be treated with caution.
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Vol. 99 • No. 5