Morphometrical and genetic comparison of two nematode species: **H. spumosa** and **H. dahomensis** (Nematoda, Heterakidae)
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Acta parasitologica. - Warszawa
, p. 389-398
University of Antwerp
Heterakis is a genus of parasitic nematodes, the majority of which are found in ground-feeding birds and only rarely in mammals. The best-known species is Heterakis spumosa, a parasite associated with the cosmopolitan invasive rodent Rattus rattus of Asiatic origin. Heterakis dahomensis was described in 1911 as a parasite of the Gambian giant rat (Cricetomys gambianus) from Benin (Africa), subsequently synonymized to H. spumosa by Hall (1916). The study of helminths in African rodents is scarce and patchy. Since the original description of H. dahomensis, there have been only a few reports from Africa of species belonging to the genus Heterakis and the validity of this species has never in fact been confirmed or rejected. In the present study individual Heterakis spp. were collected from C. gambianus from Senegal. The morphological data taken point to differences between Heterakis dahomensis and H. spumosa, specifically in the number of tail papillae in males and in the vulva cuticular processes of females. In addition, molecular data revealed differences between these taxa and so H. dahomensis should be considered as a valid species. Moreover, recent changes in the systematics of the genus Cricetomys mean that it is now necessary to study the morphology and genetics of the Heterakis specimens collected from Cricetomys spp. (previously assigned to C. gambianus) in order to determine their taxonomic status as either H. dahomensis o H. spumosa.