Littlewood, Timothy J. and Curini Galletti, Marco and Herniou, Elisabeth A. (2000) The Interrelationships of Proseriata (Platyhelminthes: Seriata) tested with molecules and morphology. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Vol. 16 (3), p. 449-466. ISSN 1055-7903. Article.
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Proseriate flatworms are common members of the interstitial benthic fauna worldwide, predominantly occupying marine environments. As minute animals, having relatively few characters useful for cladistic analysis, they have been difficult to present in a phylogenetic framework using morphology alone. Here we present a new morphological matrix consisting of 16 putatively homologous characters and two molecular data sets to investigate further this major group of free-living members of the Platyhelminthes. Complete 18S rDNA (representing 277 parsimony-informative characters) from 17 ingroup taxa and partial 28S rDNA spanning variable expansion regions D1 to D3 and D1 to D6 (representing 219 and 361 parsimony-informative characters, respectively) from 27 and 14 ingroup taxa, respectively, were determined and aligned as complementary data sets. Morphological and molecular data sets were analyzed separately and together to determine underlying phylogenetic patterns and to resolve conflict between published scenarios based on morphology alone. The monophyly of the Proseriata cannot be confirmed categorically with any of these data sets. However, the constituent taxa are confirmed as basal members of the Neoophora, and a sister group relationship with Tricladida is rejected. Similarly, the monophyly of one of the two subtaxa of the Proseriata, the Lithophora, could not be confirmed with molecules. Concerning intragroup relationships, we could reject one of the two phylogenetic trees formerly proposed, as well as the clade Otoplanidae + Coelogynoporidae. However, a clade Otoplanidae + Archimonocelididae + Monocelididae (to which the Monotoplanidae belong) was supported, and the position of the genus Calviria shifted from the Archimonocelididae to the Coelogynoporidae.
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