We investigated how Gyrodactylus corydori Bueno-Silva and Boeger, 2009 exploits two sympatric host species, Corydoras paleatus (Jenyns, 1842) and Corydoras ehrhardti Steindachner, 1910. Specimens of G. corydori were collected from the Piraquara and Miringuava Rivers, State of Paraná, Brazil, between 2005 and 2006. A total of 167 parasites was measured from both host species. Nine morphometric features of the haptoral sclerites were measured and analyzed by discriminant analysis, cluster analysis and multivariate analysis of variance. A fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I gene (COI) (∼740. bp) and the rDNA internal transcribed spacers (ITS) (∼1200. bp) of G. corydori were sequenced. Bayesian and parsimony analyses of COI recognized two genetically structured clades of G. corydori, which corresponded closely with the two species of Corydoras. Twenty-eight haplotypes were detected (18 were exclusive to C. ehrhardti and seven were exclusive to C. paleatus). The same general pattern between parasites and host species was observed in the morphometric analyses. Nevertheless, poor correlation of genetic and morphometric variation strongly supports the plastic nature of the morphological variation of haptoral sclerites. The existence of two clades with limited gene flow would suggest that G. corydori already represents two cryptic species. However, the morphometric and molecular data showed that there is insufficient evidence to support two valid species. The low COI (0.1-6.2%) and ITS (0.09-3.5%) divergence within G. corydori suggest a recent separation of the lineages between distinct host species (less than 1 million years). As the hypothesis of secondary contact of the parasite demographic history was rejected, our results point to the possibility of sympatric incipient ongoing speciation of G. corydori to form distinct parasite lineages adapted to C. ehrhardti and C. paleatus. This may be a common event within the Gyrodactylidae, adding a yet unreported mode of adaptive speciation that helps to understand its rate of diversification.
- Disruptive selection