Phylogenetic relationships within the Opisthorchis viverrini species complex with specific analysis of O. viverrini sensu lato from Sakon Nakhon, Thailand by mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequencing

01 Aug 2018
Pitaksakulrat O, Webster BL, Webster JP, Laha T, Saijuntha W, Lamberton PHL, Kiatsopit N, Andrews RH, Petney TN, Sithithaworn P

The liver fluke Opisthorchis viverrini sensu lato causes serious public-health problems in Northeast Thailand and Southeast Asian countries. A hypothesis has been proposed that O. viverrini represents a species complex with varying levels of genetic differentiation in Thailand and Lao PDR. This study aimed to clarify whether O. viverrini populations can be genetically divided into separate taxa. We collected O. viverrini s.l. from eight different locations in Lao PDR and Thailand. The results of nad1, cox1, CF-int6, Pm-int9, ITS2 and 28S rDNA sequence analysis revealed that sub-structuring occurred between the eight populations. We found that O. viverrini s.l. from Sakon Nakhon (SK), Thailand, shows significant genetic differentiation (P < .05) from all other isolates from different localities in Thailand and Lao PDR. This was supported by haplotype and phylogenetic tree analyses in which the SK isolate was separated from all other isolates. This suggests that O. viverrini s.l. from SK is a cryptic species. The data, however, also confirm the association between genetic groups of O. viverrini s.l. and specific wetland systems, and raise important questions regarding the epidemiological significance of these genetic differences.