The macroparasite fauna of cichlid fish from Nicaraguan lakes, a model system for understanding host–parasite diversification and speciation

By Santacruz, Ana, M. Barluenga, G. Pérez-Ponce de León

Scientific Reports, 12(3944):1-14 10-Mar-2022. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-07647-w


" The Nicaraguan lakes represent an ideal continent-island-like setting to study the colonization patterns of both fish and their parasites. The dominant fish fauna are cichlids, particularly the Midas cichlid species complex Amphilophus spp., a well-studied model for recent sympatric speciation. Here, we characterized the Midas cichlid macroparasite diversity in Nicaraguan lakes. We evaluated patterns of parasite diversity across host populations. Morphological and molecular analyses were conducted, revealing a macroparasite fauna composed by 37 taxa, including platyhelminths, nematodes, copepods, branchiurans, hirudineans and oribatids. Three invasive species are reported for the first time. The Midas cichlid was infected by 22 parasite taxa, 18 shared with other cichlids. Eight taxa conformed the core parasite fauna of the Midas cichlid. The large lakes had higher parasite diversity than the smaller and isolated crater lakes, although parasite infracommunity diversity was lower. Environmental factors along with the differential distribution of intermediate hosts, the potential resistance gained by their hosts after colonization of new lakes, competitive exclusion among parasites, or the introduction of exotic fish, may determine the observed pattern of parasite heterogeneous distribution. Our study provides a ground to explore the evolutionary history of both, hosts and parasites within the context of speciation and diversification processes "

Classification: Evolution, Central and North America.

Language: English

Name substitutions

Santacruz, Ana & M. Barluenga, G. Pérez-Ponce de León. 2022. "The macroparasite fauna of cichlid fish from Nicaraguan lakes, a model system for understanding host–parasite diversification and speciation". Scientific Reports. 12(3944):1-14. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-07647-w (crc12019) (abstract)