Molecular phylogenetics of the avian feather louse Philopterus-complex (Phthiraptera: Philopteridae)

Stanislav Kolencik, Kevin P. Johnson, Avery R. Grant, Michel P. Valim, Kamila M.D. Kuabara, Jason D. Weckstein, Julie M. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The avian feather louse Philopterus-complex (Phthiraptera: Ischnocera: Philopteridae) currently contains 12 genera that have been grouped together because of shared morphological characteristics. Although previously lumped into a single genus (Philopterus), more recent morphological treatments have separated the group into several different genera. Here we evaluate the status of these genera using DNA sequence data from 118 ingroup specimens belonging to ten genera in the Philopterus-complex: Australophilopterus Mey, 2004, Cinclosomicola Mey 2004, Clayiella Eichler, 1940, Corcorides Mey, 2004, Mayriphilopterus Mey, 2004, Paraphilopterus Mey 2004, Philopteroides Mey 2004, Philopterus Nitzsch, 1818, Tyranniphilopterus Mey, 2004, and Vinceopterus Gustafsson, Lei, Chu, Zou, and Bush, 2019. Our sampling includes 97 new louse-host association records. Our analyses suggest that the genus Debeauxoecus Conci, 1941, parasitic on pittas (Aves: Pittidae), is outside of the Philopterus-complex, and that there is strong support for the monophyly of a group containing the remaining genera from the complex. Some diverse genera, such as Philopterus (sensu stricto) and Mayriphilopterus are supported as monophyletic, whereas the genera Australophilopterus, Philopteroides, and Tyranniphilopterus are not. The present study is the largest phylogenetic reconstruction of avian lice belonging to the Philopterus-complex to date and suggests that further generic revision is needed in the group to integrate molecular and morphological information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107556
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Chewing lice
  • DNA
  • Molecular biology
  • Species complex
  • Taxonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology


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