[Annelida] Hirudo species confusion in the news
(by g.read from niwa.co.nz)
Wed Apr 11 15:51:50 EST 2007
Differentiating Hirudo medicinalis & H. verbana.
The first molecular publication on this was around three years ago, and
now a new paper spells it out.
The Times, April 11, 2007
The leech thats made suckers of scientists
"Decades of medical research and hundreds of academic papers have been
called into question after the discovery that scientists may have been
studying the wrong blood-sucking leech." etc.
The paper is pre-release. The DOI given does not work. Url below works.
Siddall, M., Trontelj, P., Utevsky, S., Nkamany, M. & Macdonald, K.
(2007) Diverse molecular data demonstrate that commercially available
medicinal leeches are not Hirudo medicinalis. Proceedings of the Royal
Society B: Biological Sciences, [Efirst status]
ABSTRACT. The European medicinal leech is one of vanishingly few animal
species with direct application in modern medicine. In addition to the
therapeutic potential held by many protease inhibitors purified from
leech saliva, and notwithstanding the historical association with
quackery, Hirudo medicinalis has been approved by the United States Food
and Drug Administration as a prescription medical device. Accurate
annotation of bioactive compounds relies on precise species
determination. Interpretations of developmental and neurophysiological
characteristics also presuppose uniformity within a model species used
in laboratory settings. Here, we show, with mitochondrial sequences and
nuclear microsatellites, that there are at least three species of
European medicinal leech, and that leeches marketed as H. medicinalis
are actually Hirudo verbana. Beyond the obvious need for reconsideration
of decades of biomedical research on this widely used model organism,
these findings impact regulatory statutes and raise concerns for the
conservation status of European medicinal leeches.
By the way the authors have DNA Barcoding as a keyword. :-)
Geoff Read <g.read from niwa.co.nz>
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