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New cryptic species of the ‘revolutum’ group of Echinostoma (Digenea: Echinostomatidae) revealed by molecular and morphological data

Simona Georgieva1, Christian Selbach2, Anna Faltýnková1, Miroslava Soldánová12, Bernd Sures2*, Karl Skírnisson3 and Aneta Kostadinova14

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Parasitology, Biology Centre of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Branišovská 31, České Budějovice, 370 05, Czech Republic

2 Department of Aquatic Ecology and Centre for Water and Environmental Research (ZWU), University of Duisburg-Essen, Universitätsstraße 5, Essen D-45141, Germany

3 Laboratory of Parasitology, Institute for Experimental Pathology, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Keldur, 112, Iceland

4 Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 2 Gagarin Street, Sofia, 1113, Bulgaria

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Parasites & Vectors 2013, 6:64  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-6-64

Published: 13 March 2013



The digenean species of Echinostoma (Echinostomatidae) with 37 collar spines that comprise the so-called ‘revolutum’ species complex, qualify as cryptic due to the interspecific homogeneity of characters used to differentiate species. Only five species were considered valid in the most recent revision of the group but recent molecular studies have demonstrated a higher diversity within the group. In a study of the digeneans parasitising molluscs in central and northern Europe we found that Radix auricularia, R. peregra and Stagnicola palustris were infected with larval stages of two cryptic species of the ‘revolutum’ complex, one resembling E. revolutum and one undescribed species, Echinostoma sp. IG. This paper provides morphological and molecular evidence for their delimitation.


Totals of 2,030 R. auricularia, 357 R. peregra and 577 S. palustris were collected in seven reservoirs of the River Ruhr catchment area in Germany and a total of 573 R. peregra was collected in five lakes in Iceland. Cercariae were examined and identified live and fixed in molecular grade ethanol for DNA isolation and in hot/cold 4% formaldehyde solution for obtaining measurements from fixed materials. Partial fragments of the mitochondrial gene nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide dehydrogenase subunit 1 (nad1) were amplified for 14 isolates.


Detailed examination of cercarial morphology allowed us to differentiate the cercariae of the two Echinostoma spp. of the ‘revolutum’ species complex. A total of 14 partial nad1 sequences was generated and aligned with selected published sequences for eight species of the ‘revolutum’ species complex. Both NJ and BI analyses resulted in consensus trees with similar topologies in which the isolates from Europe formed strongly supported reciprocally monophyletic lineages. The analyses also provided evidence that North American isolates identified as E. revolutum represent another cryptic species of the ‘revolutum’ species complex.


Our findings highlight the need for further analyses of patterns of interspecific variation based on molecular and morphological evidence to enhance the re-evaluation of the species and advance our understanding of the relationships within the ‘revolutum’ group of Echinostoma.

Radix auricularia; Radix peregra; Stagnicola palustris; Echinostoma; Cryptic species; Europe