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Phylogeny of Gastrotricha: A Morphology-Based Framework of Gastrotrich Relationships

Rick Hochberg and Marianne K. Litvaitis
Biological Bulletin
Vol. 198, No. 2 (Apr., 2000), pp. 299-305
DOI: 10.2307/1542532
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1542532
Page Count: 7
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Phylogeny of Gastrotricha: A Morphology-Based Framework of Gastrotrich Relationships
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Abstract

Currently, the phylum Gastrotricha is divided into the orders Macrodasyida and Chaetonotida, with the structure of the myoepithelial pharynx being an important distinguishing feature. Macrodasyida currently has six recognized families, and Chaetonotida comprises seven families. However, within-group relationships are poorly understood. To arrive at a better understanding of gastrotrich systematics and phylogeny, we performed the first cladistic analysis of nearly all known gastrotrich genera using 71 morphological characters. Results suggest that the Gastrotricha is a monophyletic group (supported by 82% of bootstrap replications) with its most primitive taxa distributed among the families Dactylopodolidae and Neodasyidae. Monophyly of Macrodasyida and Chaetonotida was supported by 90% and 52% bootstrap replications, respectively. Within the Macrodasyida, the families Dactylopodolidae, Turbanellidae, Macrodasyidae, and Thaumastodermatidae all formed monophyletic clades. The families Planodasyidae and Lepidodasyidae were paraphyletic. Among the Chaetonotida, the marine family Xenotrichulidae was monophyletic, supported by 51% of bootstrap replications. A second clade containing all freshwater families was supported by 62% bootstrap values. However, Chaetonotidae were paraphyletic. Using this analysis as a framework, we now can explore possible patterns of evolution within it, and arrive at a consensus of the gastrotrich ground pattern. Moreover, in future molecular studies of metazoan phylogeny, we will be able to select gastrotrich species that are more appropriate representatives of the phylum.

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