Molecules to aid taxonomy and elucidation of life histories of trematode pathogens of wildlife in Ndumo Game Reserve, northern KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

The project aims the development of a modern taxonomic framework for a large group of morphologically similar species of the superfamily Diplostomoidea (Trematoda: Digenea) by using advanced morphological, molecular and statistical methodologies pertaining to a more refined assessment of trematode diversity and life-cycles. The application of an integrative taxonomic approach based on advanced morphological, molecular and ecological markers will allow to confidently delimit species boundaries, identify cryptic species and elucidate life histories. Consequently, a methodology for accurate and rapid identification of diplostomoids in the African freshwater systems will be developed which will contribute to our understanding of the biodiversity patterns, population structure, biology, distribution, epidemiology and host-parasite relationships of these important wildlife pathogens in South Africa.