Parasitology Research

, Volume 118, Issue 6, pp 1761–1783 | Cite as

Revision of Acanthotaenia von Linstow, 1903 (Cestoda: Proteocephalidae), parasites of monitors (Varanus spp.), based on morphological and molecular data

  • Alain de Chambrier
  • Jan Brabec
  • Binh Thi Tran
  • Tomáš ScholzEmail author
Helminthology - Original Paper


A morphological and molecular phylogenetic study of proteocephalid tapeworms of the genus Acanthotaenia von Linstow, 1903, parasites of monitors (Varanidae), was carried out. The type species, A. shipleyi von Linstow, 1903, which was originally described based on an immature specimen from Sri Lanka, is redescribed based on new material from the type host, Varanus salvator, in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Vietnam, and its neotype is designated. In addition, Acanthotaenia susanae n. sp. is described from Varanus nebulosus in Vietnam. The new species differs from congeners by the large size of the scolex, width of the rostellum and the number of testes. New molecular data (sequences of lsrDNA and cox1) revealed Acanthotaenia paraphyletic with the inclusion of Australotaenia bunthangi de Chambrier & Scholz, 2012, a parasite of Enhydris enhydris (Ophidia: Homalopsidae) in Cambodia. Molecular data confirm a wide distribution of A. shipleyi (isolates from Malaysia and Vietnam were almost identical) and indicate a strict host specificity (oioxeny) of individual species of the genus. Type specimens of four species made it possible to supplement their morphological descriptions. A survey of all species of Acanthotaenia recognised as valid is presented and the following taxonomic changes are proposed: Acanthotaenia pythonis Wahid, 1968 described from the green python, Morelia viridis, in a zoo, is transferred to Kapsulotaenia as Kapsulotaenia pythonis (Wahid, 1968) n. comb., because it possesses intrauterine eggs grouped in capsules. Acanthotaenia gracilis (Beddard, 1913) from Varanus varius in Australia is considered to be species inquirenda because its original descriptions did not contain sufficient data for adequate circumscription and differentiation from congeners and type material was not available. Generic diagnosis of Acanthotaenia is amended and a key to its seven species is provided.


Eucestoda Onchoproteocephalidea Acanthotaeniinae Reptiles Taxonomy lsrDNA coxPhylogeny 



Two anonymous reviewers provided very helpful suggestions. The authors are also indebted to Andrea Waeschenbach (London) for providing the cox1 sequence of Australotaenia bunthangi, Philippe Vieira Alves (Seropédica) for taking SEM micrographs and describing microtriches, Anna J. Phillips (Washington, D.C.) and Eileen A. Harris (London) for loan of comparative material, the late Susan Lim Lee-Hong (Kuala Lumpur) and Sophie de Chambrier (Geneva) for their help during the trip of AdC to Malaysia in 2001, Roman Kuchta and Miloslav Jirků (České Budějovice) for help during the collecting trip of AdC and TS to Vietnam in 2010 and Peter Wightman (Coelbren) for checking the English. Thanks are also due to Janik Pralong and Gilles Roth (Geneva) and Martina Borovková (České Budějovice) for their technical help and Anjum Rizvi (Kolkata) for information about the types of A. woodlandi.


This study was supported by the National Science Foundation PBI awards Nos. 0818696 and 0818823, the Institute of Parasitology (RVO: 60077344) and the Donation Georges et Antoine Claraz. This research was partly funded by the Vietnam National Foundation for Science and Technology Development (NAFOSTED) under grant number 106.05-2017.17.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable institutional, national and international guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of InvertebratesNatural History MuseumGeneva 6Switzerland
  2. 2.Institute of ParasitologyBiology Centre of the Czech Academy of SciencesČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic
  3. 3.Institute of Ecology and Biological ResourcesVietnam Academy of Sciences and TechnologyHanoiVietnam

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