Recent progress in molecular techniques has generated a wealth of information for phylogenetic analysis. Among metazoans all but a single phylum have been incorporated into some sort of molecular analysis. However, the minute and rare species of the phylum Loricifera have remained elusive to molecular systematists. Here we report the first molecular sequence data (nearly complete 18S rRNA) for a member of the phylum Loricifera, Pliciloricus sp. from Korea. The new sequence data were analyzed together with 52 other ecdysozoan sequences, with all other phyla represented by three or more sequences. The data set was analyzed using parsimony as an optimality criterion under direct optimization as well as using a Bayesian approach. The parsimony analysis was also accompanied by a sensitivity analysis. The results of both analyses are largely congruent, finding monophyly of each ecdysozoan phylum, except for Priapulida, in which the coelomate Meiopriapulus is separate from a clade of pseudocoelomate priapulids. The data also suggest a relationship of the pseudocoelomate priapulids to kinorhynchs, and a relationship of nematodes to tardigrades. The Bayesian analysis placed the arthropods as the sister group to a clade that includes tardigrades and nematodes. However, these results were shown to be parameter dependent in the sensitivity analysis. The position of Loricifera was extremely unstable to parameter variation, and support for a relationship of loriciferans to any particular ecdysozoan phylum was not found in the data.
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1 November 2006
First Molecular Data on the Phylum Loricifera – An Investigation into the Phylogeny of Ecdysozoa with Emphasis on the Positions of Loricifera and Priapulida
Hyun Soo Rho,
Reinhardt Møbjerg Kristensen,