The phylum Gastrotricha includes about 700 species. They are small worm-like organisms abundant among marine and freshwater meiobenthos. In spite of their ubiquity, diversity and relative abundance, phylogenetic relationships of these animals remain enigmatic due to the conflicting results of morphological and molecular cladistic analyses. Also unclear are the alliances within the phylum. In order to best estimate the position of Gastrotricha among the Metazoa and to shed some light on the ingroup phylogenetic relationships, small subunit (SSU) ribosomal DNA (rDNA) from 15 species of Chaetonotida (eight genera) and 28 species of Macrodasyida (26 genera) were included in an alignment of 50 metazoan taxa representing 26 phyla. Of the gastrotrich SSU rDNA sequences, eight are new and, along with published sequences represent eight families, including the five marine most speciose. Gastrotricha were resolved within a monophyletic Lophotrochozoa as part of a clade including Micrognathozoa, Rotifera and Cycliophora. The Gnathostomulida were sister to this clade. Nodal support was love for all of these relationships except the grouping of the Micrognathozoa, Rotifera and Cycliophora. Bayesian inference resolved the Gastrotricha as monophyletic with weak nodal support; the Macrodasyida were resolved as paraphyletic with many basal nodes poorly supported. Within the Chaetonotida, the monotypic Multitubulatina Neodasys was found in alliance with the macrodasyidan Urodasys while all the Paucitubulatina were found to form a single, well-supported clade, with Musellifer as the most basal member. Among the snore densely sampled Macrodasyida the Lepidodasyidae and Macrodasyidae were each found to be polyphyletic while morphology was well supported for the Turbanellidae and Thaumastodermatidae. The congruence of our results with those of the cladistic analysis based on morphological traits provides confidence about the value of each dataset, and calls for widening of the research to include additional taxa of particular phylogenetic significance such as the Dactylopodolidae, Diuronotus, Heteroxenotrichula and Draculiciteria. The study highlights the problems in working with small species, the need for voucher specimens and the confused taxonomic status and membership of various gastrotrich families.
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|Anno di pubblicazione:||2006|
|Titolo:||Interrelationships of the Gastrotricha and their place among the Metazoa inferred from 18S rRNA genes|
|Autori:||TODARO M.A.; TELFORD M.J.; LOCKYER A.E.; LITTLEWOOD D.T.J.|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||Articolo su rivista|
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