The phylogenetic position of most xiphidiocercariae from subgroups Cercariae virgulae and Cercariae microcotylae remains unknown or unclear, even at the family level. In this paper, we studied the morphology and molecular phylogeny of 15 microcotylous and virgulate cercariae (11 new and four previously described ones). Based on morphological and molecular data, we suggested five distinct morphological types of xiphidiocercariae, which are a practical alternative to Cercariae virgulae and Cercariae microcotylae subgroups. Four of these types correspond to actual digenean taxa (Microphallidae, Lecithodendriidae, Pleurogenidae and Prosthogonimidae), while the fifth is represented by Cercaria nigrospora Wergun, 1957, which we classified on the basis of molecular data for the first time. We reassessed the relative importance of morphological characters used for the classification of virgulate and microcotylous cercariae, and discussed the main evolutionary trends within xiphidiocercariae. Now stylet cercariae can be reliably placed into several sub-taxa of Microphalloidea on the basis of their morphological features.
Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology