During our work on biodiversity of parasites of mammals of the Neotropics we collected numerous nematodes assignable to species of the family Aspidoderidae (Nemata: Heterakoidea). These nematodes occur as parasites of the cecum and large intestine of marsupials, rodents and xenarthrans (armadillos) only in the New World. As aspidoderid nematodes have been little studied beyond their alpha taxonomy, it is the purpose of the present paper to apply phylogenetic systematic methods to more completely understand the evolutionary relationships of the included species. Members of the aspidoderid subfamily Lauroiinae have had very little work applied to their systematic relationships and no systematic revisions exist that include all recognized species. Diagnostic characters that define species in this subfamily include plate-like cuticular structures on the anterior end. Herein we define a suite of 52 characters derived from studies of specimens using both light and electron microscopy. Our phylogenetic systematic analysis included the eight known species in the Lauroiinae, seven of the Aspidoderinae and four outgroup taxa. The results indicate that the Lauroiinae is paraphyletic, that the cephalic plates on the anterior end are not synapomorphies for the Lauroiinae, and that structures forming the cordon are present in all species of the family. We propose elimination of the subfamily designations in the family Aspidoderidae and we show the utility of using additional characters in the diagnosis of the family and the genera within this family. The resulting hypothesis should serve as the foundation to understand the historical associations of the nematodes with the mammals they infect.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics