On the Phylogenetic Position of Rotifera – Have We Come Any Further?


Rotifers are bilateral symmetric animals belonging to Protostomia. The ultrastructure of the rotiferan trophi suggests that they belong to the Gnathifera, and ultrastructural similarities between the integuments and spermatozoa as well as molecular evidence strongly suggest that rotifers and the parasitic acanthocephalans are closely related and form the clade Syndermata. Here we discuss the phylogenetic position of rotifers with regard to the gnathiferan groups. Originally, Gnathifera only included the hermaphroditic Gnathostomulida and the Syndermata. The synapomorphy supporting Gnathifera is the presence of pharyngeal hard parts such as jaws and trophi with similar ultrastructure. The newly discovered Micrognathozoa possesses such jaws and is a strong candidate for inclusion in Gnathifera because their cellular integument also has an apical intracytoplasmic lamina as in Syndermata. But Gnathifera might include other taxa. Potential candidates include the commensalistic Myzostomida and Cycliophora. Traditionally, Myzostomida has been included in the annelids but recent studies regard them either as sister group to the Acanthocephala or Cycliophora. Whether Cycliophora belongs to Gnathifera is still uncertain. Some analyses based on molecular data or total evidence point towards a close relationship between Cycliophora and Syndermata. Other cladistic studies using molecular data, morphological characters or total evidence suggest a sister group relationship between Cycliophora and Entoprocta. More molecular and morphological data and an improved sampling of taxa are obviously needed to elucidate the phylogenetic position of the rotifers and identify which phyla belong to Gnathifera.

DOI: 10.1007/s10750-005-4093-6

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@article{Funch2005OnTP, title={On the Phylogenetic Position of Rotifera – Have We Come Any Further?}, author={Peter Funch and Martin Vinther S\orensen and Matthias Obst}, journal={Hydrobiologia}, year={2005}, volume={546}, pages={11-28} }