[Annelida] Hirudo species confusion in the news

Geoff Read via annelida%40net.bio.net (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 that’s 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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