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Biological Sciences


Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences


Hyalomma Koch, 1844 are ixodid ticks that infest mammals, birds and reptiles, to which 27 recognized species occur across the Afrotropical, Palearctic and Oriental regions. Despite their medical and veterinary importance, the evolutionary history of the group is enigmatic. To investigate various taxonomic hypotheses based on morphology, and also some of the mechanisms involved in the diversification of the genus, we sequenced and analysed data derived from two mtDNA fragments, three nuclear DNA genes and 47 morphological characters. Bayesian and Parsimony analyses based on the combined data (2242 characters for 84 taxa) provided maximum resolution and strongly supported the monophyly of Hyalomma and the subgenus Euhyalomma Filippova, 1984 (including H. punt Hoogstraal, Kaiser and Pedersen, 1969). A predicted close evolutionary association was found between morphologically similar H. dromedarii Koch, 1844, H. somalicum Tonelli Rondelli, 1935, H. impeltatum Schulze and Schlottke, 1929 and H. punt, and together they form a sister lineage to H. asiaticum Schulze and Schlottke, 1929, H. schulzei Olenev, 1931 and H. scupense Schulze, 1919. Congruent with morphological suggestions, H. anatolicum Koch, 1844, H. excavatum Koch, 1844 and H. lusitanicum Koch, 1844 form a clade and so also H. glabrum Delpy, 1949, H. marginatum Koch, 1844, H. turanicum Pomerantzev, 1946 and H. rufipes Koch, 1844. Wide scale continental sampling revealed cryptic divergences within African H. truncatum Koch, 1844 and H. rufipes and suggested that the taxonomy of these lineages is in need of a revision. The most basal lineages in Hyalomma represent taxa currently confined to Eurasia and molecular clock estimates suggest that members of the genus started to diverge approximately 36.25 million years ago (Mya). The early diversification event coincides well with the collision of the Indian and Eurasian Plates, an event that was also characterized by large scale faunal turnover in the region. Using S-Diva, we also propose that the closure of the Tethyan seaway allowed for the genus to first enter Africa approximately 17.73 Mya. In concert, our data supports the notion that tectonic events and large scale global changes in the environment contributed significantly to produce the rich species diversity currently found in the genus Hyalomma.


This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in miRNA Biogenesis following peer review. The version of record is available online at: 10.1016/j.ympev.2017.06.002.


Publication Title

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution



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