UQ Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysisresearcher Dr Kim Sewell said the study reconstructed the evolutionary history of 37 species of Euastacus crayfish and 33 species of temnocephalans, which are their flatworm passengers.
“These worms, often mistaken as leeches, have been known to science for more than 100 years,” Dr Sewell said.
“Australia is now recognised as the centre of world diversity for the group.”
Dr Sewell said fishers often mistook the worms for parasites that could mean the crayfish are unsuitable to eat.
“The worms are actually ectosymbionts, which means they occupy their hosts without causing harm and could even play a role in cleaning the crayfish.