Assembling the spiralian tree of life

Gonzalo Giribet, Casey W. Dunn, Gregory D. Edgecombe, Andreas Hejnol, Mark Q. Martindale and Greg W. Rouse

in Animal Evolution

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780199549429
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191721601 | DOI:
 Assembling the spiralian tree of life

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The advent of numerical methods for analyzing phylogenetic relationships, along with the study of morphology and molecular data, have driven our understanding of animal relationships for the past three decades. Within the protostome branch of the animal tree of life, these data have sufficed to establish two major clades; Ecdysozoa, a clade of animals that all moult, and Spiralia (often called Lophotrochozoa), a clade whose most recent common ancestor had spiral cleavage. In this chapter, we outline the current knowledge of protostome relationships and discuss future perspectives and strategies to increase our understanding of relationships within the main spiralian clades. Novel approaches to coding morphological characters are a pressing concern, best dealt with by scoring real observations on species selected as terminals. Methodological issues, such as the treatment of inapplicable characters and the coding of absences, may require novel algorithmic developments. Taxon sampling is another pressing issue, as terminals within phyla should include enough species to represent their span of anatomical disparity. Furthermore, key fossil taxa that can contribute novel character state combinations, such as the so-called 'stem-group lophotrochozoans', should not be neglected. In the molecular forum, EST-based phylogenomics is playing an increasingly important role in elucidating animal relationships. Large-scale sequencing has recently exploded for Spiralia, and phylogenomic data are lacking from only a few phyla, including the three most recently discovered animal phyla (Cycliophora, Loricifera, and Micrognathozoa). While the relationships between many groups now find strong support, others require additional information to be positioned with confidence. Novel morphological observations and phylogenomic data will be critical to resolving these remaining questions. Recent EST-based analyses underpin a new taxonomic proposal, Kryptrochozoa (the least inclusive clade containing the Brachiopoda and Nemertea).

Keywords: animal evolution; Metazoa; phylogeny; nervous system; morphology; phylogenomics; Lophotrochozoa; Spiralia; Platyzoa; Trochozoa

Chapter.  6996 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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