Comparative genomics reveals adaptive evolution of Asian tapeworm in switching to a new intermediate host
Taenia saginata, Taenia solium and Taenia asiatica (beef, pork and Asian tapeworms, respectively) are parasitic flatworms of major public health and food safety importance. Among them, T. asiatica is a newly recognized species that split from T. saginata via an intermediate host switch ~1.14 Myr ago. Here we report the 169- and 168-Mb draft genomes of T. saginata and T. asiatica. Comparative analysis reveals that high rates of gene duplications and functional diversifications might have partially driven the divergence between T. asiatica and T. saginata. We observe accelerated evolutionary rates, adaptive evolutions in homeostasis regulation, tegument maintenance and lipid uptakes, and differential/specialized gene family expansions in T. asiatica that may favour its hepatotropism in the new intermediate host. We also identify potential targets for developing diagnostic or intervention tools against human tapeworms. These data provide new insights into the evolution of Taenia parasites, particularly the recent speciation of T. asiatica.