Date of this Version
The phylogeny of nematodes in the family Protostrongylidae (Nematoda: Metastrongyloidea) was reconstructed by cladistic analysis of 28 binary and multistate characters derived from comparative morphology. Analyses were hierarchical, and examined (1)relationships among genera, including 13 ingroup taxa and Metastrongylidae as an outgroup (single tree, 78 steps, consistency index [CI]=0.705); and (2) relationships among genera and species groups including 21 ingroup taxa and Metastrongylus apri as an outgroup (single tree, 76 steps, CI=0.582). In the species-level tree, Protostrongylidae was divided into 2 major clades, 1 containing the subfamilies Muelleriinae (including the recently described Umingmakstrongylus pallikuukensis) Elaphostrongylinae, and the Varestrongylinae (excluding Pneumocaulus kadenazii). Varestrongylus was paraphyletic as it included Pneumostrongylus calcaratus. The second major clade consisted of a paraphyletic group containing Protostrongylus spp. and Spiculocaulus leuckarti and, basal to this subclade, several other individual protostrongylid lineages. The various subclades generally correspond to the subfamilial divisions of the Protostrongylidae. The Neostrongylinae, however, is not supported as Neostrongylus and Orthostrongylus are not sister groups. Based on a large number or hypothesized synapomorphies, the elaphostrongylines appear to be a highly derived group of protostrongylids, a feature potentially correlated with their habitat localization in muscular and nervous tissues. The generic-level tree retained most of the primary structure revealed among the species but excluded the carestrongylines from the Muelleriinae + Elaphostrongylinae subclade. Artiodactyles of the family Cervidae are considered basal hosts for protostrongylids; secondary colonization in Caprini, Rupicaprini and among lagomorphs is postulated.