Spirometra larvae are etiological agents of human sparganosis. However, the systematics of spirometrid cestodes has long been controversial. In order to determine the current knowledge on the evolution and genetic structure of Spirometra, an exhaustive population diversity analysis of spirometrid cestodes using the mitochondrial gene: cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (cox1) was performed. All publicly available cox1 sequences available in the GenBank and 127 new sequencing genes from China were used as the dataset. The haplotype identify, network, genetic differentiation and phylogenetic analysis were conducted successively. A total of 488 sequences from 20 host species, representing four spirometrid tapeworms (S. decipiens, S. ranarum, S. erinaceieuropaei and Sparganum proliferum) and several unclassified American and African isolates from 113 geographical locations in 17 countries, identified 45 haplotypes. The genetic analysis revealed that there are four clades of spirometrid cestodes: Clade 1 (Brazil + USA) and Clade 2 (Argentina + Venezuela) included isolates from America, Clade 3 contained African isolates and one Korean sample, and the remainders from Asia and Australia belonged to Clade 4; unclassified Spirometra from America and Africa should be considered the separate species within the genus; and the taxonomy of two Korea isolates (S. erinaceieuropaei KJ599680 and S. decipiens KJ599679) was still ambiguous and needs to be further identified. In addition, the demographical analyses supported population expansion for the total spirometrid population. In summary, four lineages were found in the spirometrid tapeworm, and further investigation with deeper sampling is needed to elucidate the population structure.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.