Phyllodistomum is one of the most species-rich genera of parasitic platyhelminths, with 120 species described worldwide; they infect the urinary bladder of marine and freshwater fishes. As the number of new species within the genus has increased, morphological conservatism, and the lack of reliable diagnostic traits make the separation of species a challenging task. The increase of genetic data for Phyllodistomum species has permitted the use of an integrative taxonomy approach as a framework for species discovery and delimitation. DNA sequences (28S rRNA and COI mtDNA) were obtained from individuals of Phyllodistomum sampled in 29 locations across Middle America, and used in combination with morphology, host association and geographic distribution to uncover five new congeneric species. Morphologically, the new species are relatively similar; there are no unique morphological traits to readily distinguish them. We first investigated species boundaries through phylogenetic analyses of the independent and concatenated datasets; analyses recognised five candidate species showing reciprocal monophyly and strong clade support, particularly for COI data. The interspecific 28S rRNA and COI sequence divergence among the new species from 0.4 to 18.4% and from 5.1 to 27% respectively. These results were further validated by a Bayesian species delimitation approach. The five new species are well supported by molecular data used in combination with other sources of information such as host association and geographical distribution and are described herein as Phyllodistomum romualdae sp. nov., P. virmantasi sp. nov., P. isabelae sp. nov., P. scotti sp. nov., and P. simonae sp. nov.
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Vol. 35 • No. 7