Most of the genetic variation in the H. octoseriatus group is present as fixed gene differences between species which have been described on morphological criteria. Based on allozymes, the taxonomic status of some species was challenged. There was insufficient evidence, however, to demonstrate that these were not 'good' biological species. Overall, the limited intraspecific variation was present as fixed gene differences among lice from different hosts and from different colonies of hosts; heterozygotes were rare. Two predictions derived from Price's model of parasite evolution were met: populations of lice were genetically homogeneous and, where genetic markers were present, we found substantial genetic variation among populations. These data contrast with those for endoparasitic helminths, where, in general, the amount of genetic variation is similar to that of free-living invertebrates.
- Allozyme electrophoresis
- genetic variation
- Heterodoxus octoseriatus group
- parasite evolution
- polymorphic loci