Carnivores in the families Mustelidae and Mephitidae are essential hosts for the cranial roundworm genus Skrjabingylus. A high prevalence of Skrjabingylus chitwoodorum has been observed in the striped skunk, Mephitis mephitis. Genetic barcoding studies of other nematodes have successfully used the cytochrome oxidase I (COI) mitochondrial gene to analyze genetic variation and divergence. We tested the hypothesis that low population structuring occurs within S. chitwoodorum because M. mephitis is widespread across much of North America and has high levels of gene flow. We extracted DNA from 38 samples of Skrjabingylus removed from the sinuses of M. mephitis and one from the plains spotted skunk, Spilogale putorius interrupta, for amplification and sequencing of COI. Analysis of 492 base pairs confirmed all samples were S. chitwoodorum and showed low genetic divergence (1.0%) within Texas, but high haplotype diversity. Supporting our hypothesis, no obvious divergent lineages based on geographic location were recovered within the samples based on Maximum Likelihood analysis and median joining haplotype network analysis. In fact, samples of Skrjabingylus from New York and South Dakota showed little difference compared with samples from Texas.

Publication timeframe:
Volume Open
Journal Subjects:
Life Sciences, other