• Extensive sampling and thorough taxonomic assessment of Afrotropical Rhyssinae (Hymenoptera, Ichneumonidae) reveals two new species and demonstrates the limitations of previous sampling efforts

      Hopkins, T; Roininen, H; van Noort, S; Broad, G; Kaunisto, K; Sääksjärvi, IE (Pensoft Publishers, 2019-10-07)
      Tropical forest invertebrates, such as the parasitoid wasp family Ichneumonidae, are poorly known. This work reports some of the first results of an extensive survey implemented in Kibale National Park, Uganda. A total of 456 individuals was caught of the subfamily Rhyssinae Morley, 1913, which in the Afrotropical region was previously known from only 30 specimens. Here, the six species found at the site are described and the Afrotropical Rhyssinae are reviewed. Two new species, Epirhyssa johanna Hopkins, sp. nov. and E. quagga sp. nov., are described and a key, diagnostic characters, and descriptions for all 13 known Afrotropical species are provided, including the first description of the male of Epirhyssa overlaeti Seyrig, 1937. Epirhyssa gavinbroadi Rousse & van Noort, 2014, syn. nov. is proposed to be a synonym of E. uelensis Benoit, 1951. Extensive sampling with Malaise traps gave an unprecedented sample size, and the method is recommended for other poorly known tropical areas.
    • Genetic Diversity within Schistosoma haematobium: DNA Barcoding Reveals Two Distinct Groups

      Webster, BL; Emery, AM; Webster, JP; Gouvras, A; Garba, A; Diaw, O; Seye, MM; Tchuente, LAT; Simoonga, C; Mwanga, J; et al. (PLOS, 2012-10-25)
      Background Schistosomiasis in one of the most prevalent parasitic diseases, affecting millions of people and animals in developing countries. Amongst the human-infective species S. haematobium is one of the most widespread causing urogenital schistosomiasis, a major human health problem across Africa, however in terms of research this human pathogen has been severely neglected. Methodology/Principal Findings To elucidate the genetic diversity of Schistosoma haematobium, a DNA ‘barcoding’ study was performed on parasite material collected from 41 localities representing 18 countries across Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands. Surprisingly low sequence variation was found within the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I (cox1) and the NADH-dehydrogenase subunit 1 snad1). The 61 haplotypes found within 1978 individual samples split into two distinct groups; one (Group 1) that is predominately made up of parasites from the African mainland and the other (Group 2) that is made up of samples exclusively from the Indian Ocean Islands and the neighbouring African coastal regions. Within Group 1 there was a dominance of one particular haplotype (H1) representing 1574 (80%) of the samples analyzed. Population genetic diversity increased in samples collected from the East African coastal regions and the data suggest that there has been movement of parasites between these areas and the Indian Ocean Islands. Conclusions/Significance The high occurrence of the haplotype (H1) suggests that at some point in the recent evolutionary history of S. haematobium in Africa the population may have passed through a genetic ‘bottleneck’ followed by a population expansion. This study provides novel and extremely interesting insights into the population genetics of S. haematobium on a large geographic scale, which may have consequence for control and monitoring of urogenital schistosomiasis.
    • Geographic range extension of Speke's Hinge-back Tortoise Kinixys spekii Gray, 1863

      Ihlow, F; Farooq, H; Qvozdik, V; Hofmeyr, M; Conradie, W; Harvey, J; Campbell, P; Verburgt, L; Fritz, U (Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, 2019-11-06)
      Kinixys spekii has a wide distribution range across sub-Saharan Africa, having been reported from Angola, Botswana, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, eSwatini, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Kinixys spekii inhabits savannah and dry bushveld habitats and was previously considered an inland species. However, recent records suggest a more extensive geographical distribution. Here, we provide genetically verifed records for Angola, South Africa, and Mozambique, and discuss reliable sightings for Rwanda. These new records extend the range signifcantly to the east and west, and provide evidence for the occurrence of this species along the coast of the Indian Ocean in South Africa and Mozambique.
    • A new species of Boulengerula Tornier, 1896 (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Herpelidae) from Kenya and the “rediscovery” of Boulengerula denhardti

      Wilkinson, M; Malonza, PK; Campbell, P; Loader, SP (Magnolia Press, 2017-07-04)
      A new species of herpelid caecilian, Boulengerula spawlsi sp. nov., is described based on nine specimens from Ngaia (= Ngaya or Ngaja) Forest Reserve, Nyambene Hills, Meru County, Kenya collected between 2007 and 2013. The new species differs from all other Boulengerula in having more anteriorly positioned tentacular apertures and tentacular grooves that are partly or completely covered by the maxillopalatines. Specimens of the new species were previously erroneously reported as a rediscovery of the poorly known congener Boulengerula denhardti Neiden, 1912 together with a biogeographic scenario to explain their disjunct distribution that is not required.
    • Review of the genus Genaemirum Heinrich (Hymenoptera, Ichneumonidae, Ichneumoninae) with interactive identification keys to species

      Rousse, P; Broad, G; van Noort, S (2016-11-24)
      We describe Genaemirum phagocossorum Rousse, Broad & van Noort, sp. n., a new ichneumonine parasitoid wasp reared from Eucalyptus nitens logs infested by the cossid moth Coryphodema tristis, which is considered a major pest of forestry and food crops in South Africa. This is the first plausible host association for the genus, and fits with the host association predictions of Heinrich. Two further undescribed species were found in the collections of the Natural History Museum in London and are described as Genaemirum phacochoerus Broad, Rousse & van Noort, sp. n. and Genaemirum fumosum Broad, Rousse & van Noort, sp. n. An identification key to the eight known species and a diagnosis for each species are provided, including photographs of all the primary type specimens. Online Lucid interactive identification keys are available at: http://www.waspweb.org.
    • Significant variance in genetic diversity among populations of Schistosoma haematobium detected using microsatellite DNA loci from a genome-wide database

      Glenn, TC; Lance, SL; McKee, AM; Webster, BL; Emery, AM; Zerlotini, A; Oliveira, G; Rollinson, D; Faircloth, BC (Springer Nature, 2013)
      Background Urogenital schistosomiasis caused by Schistosoma haematobium is widely distributed across Africa and is increasingly being targeted for control. Genome sequences and population genetic parameters can give insight into the potential for population- or species-level drug resistance. Microsatellite DNA loci are genetic markers in wide use by Schistosoma researchers, but there are few primers available for S. haematobium. Methods We sequenced 1,058,114 random DNA fragments from clonal cercariae collected from a snail infected with a single Schistosoma haematobium miracidium. We assembled and aligned the S. haematobium sequences to the genomes of S. mansoni and S. japonicum, identifying microsatellite DNA loci across all three species and designing primers to amplify the loci in S. haematobium. To validate our primers, we screened 32 randomly selected primer pairs with population samples of S. haematobium. Results We designed >13,790 primer pairs to amplify unique microsatellite loci in S. haematobium, (available at http://www.cebio.org/projetos/schistosoma-haematobium-genome). The three Schistosoma genomes contained similar overall frequencies of microsatellites, but the frequency and length distributions of specific motifs differed among species. We identified 15 primer pairs that amplified consistently and were easily scored. We genotyped these 15 loci in S. haematobium individuals from six locations: Zanzibar had the highest levels of diversity; Malawi, Mauritius, Nigeria, and Senegal were nearly as diverse; but the sample from South Africa was much less diverse. Conclusions About half of the primers in the database of Schistosoma haematobium microsatellite DNA loci should yield amplifiable and easily scored polymorphic markers, thus providing thousands of potential markers. Sequence conservation among S. haematobium, S. japonicum, and S. mansoni is relatively high, thus it should now be possible to identify markers that are universal among Schistosoma species (i.e., using DNA sequences conserved among species), as well as other markers that are specific to species or species-groups (i.e., using DNA sequences that differ among species). Full genome-sequencing of additional species and specimens of S. haematobium, S. japonicum, and S. mansoni is desirable to better characterize differences within and among these species, to develop additional genetic markers, and to examine genes as well as conserved non-coding elements associated with drug resistance.
    • Using the “Natural History Large Hadron Collider” to tell us about plant diversity

      Knapp, S (BioMed Central, 2017-03-07)
      A study published today in BMC Biology uses the RAINBIO dataset, a database of herbarium specimens, to analyze African plant diversity. In this blog we invited Sandra Knapp, a plant taxonomist at the Natural History Museum in London, to talk about the study and the importance of herbaria, which she regards as the “CERN of natural history”.