Molecular phylogenetic analysis of Onchocerca lupi and its Wolbachia endosymbiont

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The morphology of Onchocerca lupi, responsible for canine ocular onchocercosis, is unique within the genus. Earlier analyses of the 5S ribosomal RNA gene spacer region sequence of the parasite and the 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequence of its Wolbachia endosymbiotic bacteria (Rickettsiales) supported the morphological and biological arguments that O. lupi is a distinct species. However, the exact phylogenetic position of O. lupi and its endosymbiont could not be unambiguously determined. Herein we report analyses based on the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I (COI) gene of the filarial species and the Wolbachia surface protein (wsp) and the bacterial cell-cycle ftsZ genes of their wolbachiae. Our results indicate that O. lupi separated from other Onchocerca spp. early in evolution. This is in line with the previous morphological analysis demonstrating that O. lupi is an atypical Onchocerca species showing both primitive and evolved characters. The phylogenetic trees generated for the COI sequences of filariae and the wsp and ftsZ sequences of their wolbachiae were congruent with each other, which supports the hypothesis that nematodes and their Wolbachia endobacteria share a long co-evolutionary history.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-161
Number of pages9
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 10 2002


  • Co-evolution
  • Dog
  • Onchocerca lupi
  • Phylogeny
  • Wolbachia sp.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary(all)

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