Zoological Studies

Vol. 61, 2022

(update: 2022.11.3)

Biodiversity of the Buffalo Leeches Genus Hirudinaria (Arhynchobdellida, Hirudinidae) in Southern Thailand Revealed from DNA Barcoding

Putita Jiranuntskul1, Ausadang Boonporn1, Chalita Kongrit1, Somsak Panha1, and Ekgachai Jeratthitikul1,*

1Animal Systematics and Molecular Ecology Laboratory, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, Bangkok 10400, Thailand. *Correspondence: E-mail: ekgachai.jer@mahidol.edu (Jeratthitikul)
E-mail: putita.jira@gmail.com (Jiranuntskul); ausadang.boo@gmail.com (Boonporn); chalita.kon@mahidol.edu (Kongrit)
2Animal Systematics Research Unit, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok 10330, Thailand. E-mail: somsak.pan@chula.ac.th (Panha)

Received 9 April 2022 / Accepted 8 Oetober 2022
Communicated by Benny K.K. Chan

Leeches in the genus Hirudinaria Whitman, 1886, also known as buffalo leeches, are blood-sucking ectoparasites of vertebrates. Although they are widely distributed in Asia and were highly abundant in the past, studies on diversity and taxonomy of this genus are still scarce. There is probably a large amount of cryptic diversity yet to be discovered, particularly from mainland Southeast Asia. In this study, we explored the diversity of Hirudinaria leeches in the southern region of Thailand, where a unique geographic feature could lead to the diversification of freshwater biota, by using both morphology and DNA barcoding with a COI gene fragment. Molecular phylogenetic analyses and species delimitation approaches (ABGD, bPTP, GMYC, and BOLD) revealed the presence of four putative species of Hirudinaria leeches from southern Thailand, including H. bpling, H. thailandica, and two morphologically cryptic lineages of H. manillensis. Compared to other leech genera, genetic distances of Hirudinaria leeches were relatively low (0.11–0.65% within species; 3.72–14.36% between species) and barcoding gaps were very narrow (1.54–2.88%). Species diversity, distribution pattern, and a phenomenon of low genetic divergence of Hirudinaria leeches in southern Thailand could be explained by an ancient seaway, paleo-drainage, and anthropogenic activities.

Key words: Hirudinea, Species delimitation, Cryptic species, Systematics, Molecular phylogeny.

Citation: Jiranuntskul P, Boonporn A, Kongrit C, Panha S, Jeratthitikul E. 2022. DNA barcoding of buffalo leeches genus Hirudinaria (Arhynchobdellida, Hirudinidae) from southern of Thailand. Zool Stud 61:84.

Supplementary materials: Fig. S1Fig. S2Table S1Table S2