Ellie Sherrard-Smith, David W.G. Stanton, Jo Cable, Pablo Orozco-terWengel, Vic R. Simpson, Morten Elmeros, Jiska van Dijk, Franck Simonnet, Anna Roos, Charles Lemarchand, Lukáš Poledník, Petr Heneberg, Elizabeth A. Chadwick
The recent identification of Pseudamphistomum truncatum, (Rudolphi, 1819) (Trematoda: Opisthorchiidae) and Metorchis bilis (Braun, 1790) Odening, 1962 (synonymous with Metorchis albidus (Braun, 1893) Loos, 1899 and Metorchis crassiusculus (Rudolphi, 1809) Looss, 1899 (Trematoda: Opisthorchiidae)) in otters from Britain caused concern because of associated biliary damage, coupled with speculation over their alien status. Here, we investigate the presence, intensity and phylogeny of these trematodes in mustelids (principally otters) across Europe (Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Poland and Sweden and Britain). The trematodes were identified to species using the internal transcribed spacer II (ITS2) locus. Both parasites were found across Europe but at unequal frequency. In the German state of Saxony, eight out of eleven (73%) otters examined were infected with P. truncatum whilst this parasite was not found in either mink from Scotland (n = 40) or otters from Norway (n = 21). Differences in the phylogenies between the two species suggest divergent demographic histories possibly reflecting contrasting host diet or competitive exclusion, with M. bilis exhibiting greater mitochondrial diversity than P. truncatum. Shared haplotypes within the ranges of both parasite species probably reflect relatively unrestricted movements (both natural and anthropogenic) of intermediate and definitive hosts across Europe.
Keywords: Eurasian otter, American mink, Trematode distribution, Gene flow, Introduced species