Genetic variability of natural populations of trematodes of the genus Lecithochirium parasites of eels.
ABSTRACT Allozyme variation within and among populations of 3 species of the genus Lecithochirium (Trematoda: Hemiuridae) was studied by starch gel electrophoresis. In total, 19 loci were analysed in 7 populations. The level of genetic variability was relatively high in all populations. The percentage of polymorphic loci (0.95 criterion) observed per population varied from 21.0% to 55.5%, and expected heterozygosity levels varied from 0.082 to 0.197. All populations showed significant heterozygote deficiencies. In Lecithochirium fusiforme most of the deviations from Hardy-Weinberg proportions were within the populations and this species showed moderate population structuring (F(IS)=0.486, F(ST)=0.142, Nm= 1.51) and accordingly low intraspecific genetic distances (D=0.003 to 0.027). A significant lack of heterozygotes for several polymorphic loci was revealed in Lecithochirium rufoviride and Lecithochirium musculus. The most probable cause of the population genetic subdivision in L. rufoviride is the presence of at least 1 cryptic species in the populations studied. Although the lowest percentage of fixed genetic differences was that between L. fusiforme and L. musculus, two different algorithms for the construction of evolutionary trees on a matrix of genetic distances confirmed that L. fusiforme and L. rufoviride are phenetically the most closely related species.