Encyclometra japonica Yoshida and Ozaki, 1929 is a fluke that parasitizes the digestive tract of snakes. When the species was first reported, it was originally characterized on the basis of morphologic features, namely, the characteristics of the 2 testes located obliquely in the anterior–posterior direction, and the position of the ventral sucker one-fourth to one-third from the anterior extremity. Thereafter, more specimens with other morphologic variations were reported, and a new morphologic feature for species discrimination was proposed. However, the proposal is uncertain, and the criteria for morphologic discrimination between E. japonica and other Encyclometra species remain debatable. Thus, morphologically discriminable characteristics on the basis of a sufficient number of specimens are required, and molecular methods for species identification that allow for a more objective assessment need to be established. Therefore, in the present study, nucleotide sequences of 18S, 28S ribosomal deoxyribonucleic acid and cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) of E. japonica were determined along with detailed morphologic observations for the first time. Key characteristics were observed in all specimens, whereas some morphologic variations were observed in the symmetry of the cecum. The COI sequences, which are known to be variable genetic regions, were identical among all specimens; therefore, all of them were considered the same species. This result clarifies the high morphologic variation in E. japonica. The 18S and 28S sequences were 99.78% and 99.11–99.19% similar to those of Encylometra colubrimurorum. The high degree of homology between these genes indicates that E. japonica and E. colubrimurorum are closely related but independent species. The present data will be used for the identification of E. japonica and to evaluate the relationships within the genus Encyclometra.
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28 December 2022
Morphologic Observation and First Molecular Characterization of Encyclometra japonica (Digenea: Encyclometridae) in the Digestive Tract of Wild Tiger Keelbacks (Rhabdophis tigrinus) in Japan
Journal of Parasitology
Vol. 108 • No. 6
Vol. 108 • No. 6