A minimalist macroparasite diversity in the round goby of the Upper Rhine reduced to an exotic acanthocephalan lineage.
The round goby, Neogobius melanostomus, is a Ponto-Caspian fish considered as an invasive species in a wide range of aquatic ecosystems. To understand the role that parasites may play in its successful invasion across Western Europe, we investigated the parasitic diversity of the round goby along its invasion corridor, from the Danube to the Upper Rhine rivers, using data from literature and a molecular barcoding approach, respectively. Among 1666 parasites extracted from 179 gobies of the Upper Rhine, all of the 248 parasites barcoded on the c oxidase subunit I gene were identified as Pomphorhynchus laevis. This lack of macroparasite diversity was interpreted as a loss of parasites along its invasion corridor without spillback compensation. The genetic diversity of P. laevis was represented by 33 haplotypes corresponding to a haplotype diversity of 0.65±0.032, but a weak nucleotide diversity of 0.0018±0.00015. Eight of these haplotypes were found in 88.4% of the 248 parasites. These haplotypes belong to a single lineage so far restricted to the Danube, Vistula and Volga rivers (Eastern Europe). This result underlines the exotic status of this Ponto-Caspian lineage in the Upper Rhine, putatively disseminated by the round goby along its invasion corridor.