Coevolution With Host Fishes Shapes Parasitic Life Histories in a Group of Freshwater Mussels (Unionidae: Quadrulini).




Comparative phylogenetics, Host-parasite dynamics, Host repertoire evolution, Biodiversity, Ambleminae


Ecological interactions among species often lead to parasitic lineages coevolving with host resources, which is often suggested as the primary driver of parasite diversification. Freshwater mussels are bivalves that possess a parasitic life cycle requiring larval encystment on freshwater vertebrates to complete metamorphosis. The North American freshwater mussel tribe Quadrulini has a suite of life history adaptations including highly specialized patterns of host use, infection strategies, and variable larval morphologies. However, the evolution of life histories has yet to be explored using phylogenetic comparative methods. In this study, we use a holistic approach incorporating biogeographical, ecological, molecular, and morphological datasets to reconstruct the evolution of Quadrulini. Comparative phylogenetic analyses suggested the diversification of Quadrulini has been driven, at least in part, by codiversification with their primary host fishes in Ictaluridae. Major diversification events in both ictalurids and quadrulines were estimated to have occurred in the Mississippi River basin throughout the Miocene. Life history characteristics associated with parasitism were supported to have coevolved with host repertories, supporting the hypothesis that ecological interactions with host fishes have shaped the evolution of highly specialized traits in this group. Our findings demonstrate the importance of ecological interactions with host resources in shaping the evolutionary history of freshwater mussels.




How to Cite

Neemuchwala, S., Johnson, N. A., Pfeiffer, J. M., Lopes-Lima, M., Gomes-dos-Santos, A., Froufe, E., … Smith, C. H. (2023). Coevolution With Host Fishes Shapes Parasitic Life Histories in a Group of Freshwater Mussels (Unionidae: Quadrulini). Bulletin of the Society of Systematic Biologists, 2(1), 1–25.