Natural foci of Schistosoma turkestanicum (syn. Orientobilharzia turkestanicum) has been identified in the Gemenc Forest regions of Hungary utilising red deer as the definitive host. In order to identify the origins of this parasite in Europe standard DNA bar coding techniques were employed to sequence fragments of the cytochrome oxidase 1 (cox1) and the nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed region (ITS) from 10 individual adult male worms. Phylogenetic reconstruction using maximum likelihood phylogenetic reconstruction and haplotype networks of the cox1 showed all the worms to be of a distinct unique Hungarian lineage although some ITS haplotypes were shared with worms from populations in China and Iran. Molecular clock analysis suggests an early divergence event around 270,000years before present (YBP) between all S. turkestanicum populations giving rise to the Chinese, Iranian and Hungarian lineages. However, divergence of the sequences within the Hungarian population appears to have occurred approximately 63,000 YBP suggesting a long established population of S. turkestanicum in Europe. This suggests that the Hungarian population of S. turkestanicum has been native since the Ice Age and probably established itself during the last interglacial period as red deer moved into Europe from North Africa and the Middle East. This may also indicate that the parasite may have unknown populations established in several other countries in Eastern, Central and Southern Europe.
- Cytochrome Reductases/genetics
- DNA Barcoding, Taxonomic
- DNA, Intergenic
- Genetic Variation