Coccidian parasites of fish encompass profound phylogenetic diversity and gave rise to each of the major parasitic groups in terrestrial vertebrates

Benjamin M. Rosenthal, Detiger Dunams-Morel, Gyorgyi Ostoros, Kálmán Molnár

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)


Fish are the oldest and most diverse group of vertebrates; it therefore stands to reason that fish may have been the original hosts for many types of extant vertebrate parasites. Here, we sought to determine whether coccidian parasites of fish are especially diverse. We therefore sampled such parasites from thirty-nine species of fish and tested phylogenetic hypotheses concerning their relationships, using 18S rDNA. We found compelling phylogenetic support for distinctions among at least four lineages of piscine parasites presently ascribed to the genus Goussia. Some, but not all parasites attributed to Eimeria were confirmed as such. Major taxonomic revisions are likely justified for these parasites of fish, which appear to have given rise to each of the major lineages of coccidian parasites that subsequently proliferated in terrestrial vertebrates, including those such as Toxoplasma gondii that form tissue cysts in intermediate hosts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-227
Number of pages9
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2016



  • Coccidia
  • Evolution
  • Origins
  • Parasitism
  • Phylogeny
  • Vertebrates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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