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Molecular characterization of freshwater snails in the genus Bulinus: a role for barcodes?

Author(s): Kane Richard | Stothard J Russell | Emery Aidan | Rollinson David

Journal: Parasites & Vectors
ISSN 1756-3305

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 15;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Abstract Background Reliable and consistent methods are required for the identification and classification of freshwater snails belonging to the genus Bulinus (Gastropoda, Planorbidae) which act as intermediate hosts for schistosomes of both medical and veterinary importance. The current project worked towards two main objectives, the development of a cost effective, simple screening method for the routine identification of Bulinus isolates and the use of resultant sequencing data to produce a model of relationships within the group. Results Phylogenetic analysis of the DNA sequence for a large section (1009 bp) of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (cox1) for isolates of Bulinus demonstrated superior resolution over that employing the second internal transcribed spacer (its2) of the ribosomal gene complex. Removal of transitional substitutions within cox1 because of saturation effects still allowed identification of snails at species group level. Within groups, some species could be identified with ease but there were regions where the high degree of molecular diversity meant that clear identification of species was problematic, this was particularly so within the B. africanus group. Conclusion The sequence diversity within cox1 is such that a barcoding approach may offer the best method for characterization of populations and species within the genus from different geographical locations. The study has confirmed the definition of some accepted species within the species groups but additionally has revealed some unrecognized isolates which underlines the need to use molecular markers in addition to more traditional methods of identification. A barcoding approach based on part of the cox1 gene as defined by the Folmer primers is proposed.
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