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American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene


Fasciolid flukes are among the largest and best known digenetic trematodes and have considerable historical and veterinary significance. Fasciola hepatica is commonly implicated in causing disease in humans. The origins, patterns of diversification, and biogeography of fasciolids are all poorly known. We have undertaken a molecular phylogenetic study using 28S, internal transcribed spacer 1 and 2 (ITS-1 and ITS-2) of nuclear ribosomal DNA, and mitochondrial nicotinamide dehydrogenase subunit 1 (nad1) that included seven of the nine recognized species in the family. The fasciolids examined comprise a monophyletic group with the most basal species recovered from African elephants. We hypothesize fasciolids migrated from Africa to Eurasia, with secondary colonization of Africa. Fasciolids have been conservative in maintaining relatively large adult body size, but anatomical features of their digestive and reproductive systems are available. These flukes have been opportunistic, with respect to switching to new snail (plan-orbid to lymnaeid) and mammalian hosts and from intestinal to hepatic habitats within mammals.

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