Leech species misidentified

Medicinal leeches aren't one species, but three, a finding that may affect hundreds of scientific papers

Kirsten Weir
May 1, 2007
A recent genetic analysis of the medicinal leech has revealed that one species should be classified as three, and suggests that many leeches sold commercially have been misidentified -- oversights that may have a significant impact on years of research involving leeches.
Biochemists have isolated dozens of pharmaceutical compounds from leeches, including anticoagulants, analgesics, and protease inhibitors. Leeches are also used as model organisms in neurobiology, developmental genetics, and enteric symbiosis. Now, scientists can't be entirely sure which species they may have studied. "This raises issues about hundreds of articles," Mark Siddall of the American Museum of Natural History told The Scientist.In the study, released in April on the Web site of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Siddall and his colleagues found that the species known as Hirudo medicinalis should, in fact, be classified as three distinct species. What's more, all of the...
Hirudo medicinalisH. verbenaHirudo speciesH. medicinalisdistinct speciesH. medicinalisH. verbenaH. orientalisH. verbenaH. medicinalisH. medicinalisH. verbenaH. medicinalisW. Otto Friesenstudies leech neurobiologyH. verbenaH. medicinalisLeeches USA LtdThe ScientistH. medicinalisH. verbenaRicarimpexH. medicinalisH. verbenaH. medicinalisH. verbanaH. orientalismail@the-scientist.comH. medicinalisH. verbenaBiochemistry (Mosc)http://www.the-scientist.com/pubmed/1531027The Scientisthttp://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/19905/Eur. J. Biochemhttp://www.the-scientist.com/pubmed/8112345http://research.amnh.org/~siddall/Proceedings of the Royal Society Bhttp://www.journals.royalsoc.ac.uk/content/pxh241q322030682/?p=739b9226753345e7b24338cafb57095c&pi=0The Scientisthttp://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/22424/http://www.virginia.edu/biology/Fac/Friesen.htmlProg. Neurobiol http://www.the-scientist.com/pubmed/16260077 http://www.leechesusa.com/leechesusa/http://www.leeches-medicinalis.com/

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