Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: October 21, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Speciation within the genus Trichinella remains a controversial issue, notwithstanding the problems associated with population differences and host specificity among the genotypes. Molecular and biochemical characters have only just begun being used to assist in the classification of this genus. The application of these characters in systematics are not unlike morphological characters in that they provide another piece of valuable information to be included in the ever increasing database needed to interpret phylogenetic relationships. Unfortunately, controversy still remains as to how levels of similarities and differences in molecular information relate to levels of classification. This review discusses the current knowledge of Trichinella classification from a molecular and biochemical viewpoint and presents pitfalls of some current techniques in deciphering this complex problem.
Classification within the genus Trichinella has offered unique challenges to those interested in parasite systematics. Within most other genera, there exist distinguishing morphological and/or biological characters among the species that permit assessment of relationships and assignment of classification schemes as well as provide a basis for easy differentiation. However, the lack of unique morphological characters for all Trichinella species but Trichinella pseudospiralis and the overlapping nature of the biological characters among this group of parasites make these traits difficult to use unequivocally for differentiation and classification. As a result, molecular and biochemical data have played an increasingly important role in identifying and classifying species of this genus. A review of these methods and the potential pitfalls of their utilization are discussed below.