International Collaboration Helps Refine Tapeworm Taxonomy

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In a recent article in the Journal of Parasitology, researchers studied the taxonomy of a group of tapeworms in North America. They discovered that these tapeworms have diverse characteristics and proposed that the current genus should be split into two classifications.

The Journal of Parasitology Volume 104, Issue 1 cover

The Journal of Parasitology Volume 104, Issue 1

This article is a wonderful example of the importance of collaborative research efforts and international cooperation for the advancement of biodiversity and ecological studies.

Journal of Parasitology – For hundreds of years, scientists have practiced taxonomy to identify, describe and catalog organisms in order to provide a better understanding of the biodiversity around us. While taxonomy uses a standardized filing system that allows scientists to more easily study and track organisms, classifying an organism is a complex process and is not always correct the first time. A recent study illustrates how international collaborations can help resolve difficult taxonomies.

The authors of an article published in the current issue of the Journal of Parasitology studied the current taxonomy of a group of tapeworms that parasitize freshwater fish in North America. The scientists gathered old tapeworm specimens from museums, collected new specimens and studied their characteristics to determine whether the parasites in one particular genus, Glaridacris, belonged together in the same group.

The researchers found that the genus Glaridacris is made up of tapeworms with diverse characteristics, including different body lengths, mouthpart shapes and reproductive features. Based on these physical characteristics, the researchers proposed that the current genus should be split. Thus, they created a new genus, Pseudoglaridacris, to reflect the physical differences between the tapeworms. The researchers also created a detailed list of the species in these two genera with information about where they are found in North America, which fish they infect and how to identify them.

Studies such as these require both scientific expertise and intense collaboration. “Czech, Slovak and U.S. experts and their students contributed to this study,” said author Tomáš Scholz. “This article is a wonderful example of the importance of collaborative research efforts and international cooperation for the advancement of biodiversity and ecological studies.”

The authors established that although these tapeworms are found in similar hosts and locations, they have diverse characteristics and should be classified as two different genera. This detailed taxonomic information will help future scientists more effectively conduct their research and provide them with updated and accurate information.

Full text of the article, “A New Classification of Glaridacris Cooper, 1920 (Cestoda: Caryophyllidea), Parasites of Suckers (Catostomidae) in North America, Including Erection of Pseudoglaridacris n. gen.,” Journal of Parasitology, Vol. 104, No. 1, 2018, is available at http://www.journalofparasitology.org/doi/full/10.1645/17-58.

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About the Journal of Parasitology
The Journal of Parasitology is the official journal of the American Society of Parasitologists (ASP). It is a medium for the publication of new original research, primarily on parasitic animals, and official business of the ASP. The journal is intended for all with interests in basic or applied aspects of general, veterinary, and medical parasitology and epidemiology. For more about the journal or the society, see http://www.journalofparasitology.org.

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Dominique Scanlan
Allen Press
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