No more time to stay ‘single’ in the detection of Anisakis pegreffii, A. simplex (s. s.) and hybridization events between them: a multi-marker nuclear genotyping approach
The genus Anisakis includes nine recognized species and the complex of cryptic species Anisakis simplex s. l. is often associated with the human disease known as anisakiasis. During the last decades the use of nuclear ribosomal ITS allowed the identification and description of numerous anisakid nematodes and the discovery of recombinant genotypes or putative hybrids even in other parasitic helminths, such as those between A. simplex sensu stricto and A. pegreffii. The existence of pure hybrids of the two sibling species has been long debated due to the large recovery of larval forms from sympatric areas and the rare observation of adult hybrids. The aims of the present report were to identify anisakid nematodes collected from Stenella coeruleoalba using PCR-RFLP of ITS and to focus the interest on hybrid forms using a High Resolution Melting (HRM) and direct sequencing analyses, since the new record of putative hybrid at adult stage. The PCR-RFLP analysis enabled to identify A. simplex s.s., A. pegreffii, the heterozygous genotype of the two species and A. physeteris. The use of the genotyping approach based on HRM confirmed the profiles of the two species A. simplex s.s. and A. pegreffii, and of the hybrid individuals. The new record of adult hybrids in definitive hosts rekindles the long debate about their existence and their evolutionary meaning. Since the reproductive isolation between A. simplex s.s. and A. pegreffii is the assumption for their existence as separated species, the use of alternative molecular markers and population genetic studies on adult anisakids are recommended.