What lies beneath: molecular phylogenetics and ancestral state reconstruction of the ancient subterranean Australian Parabathynellidae (Syncarida, Crustacea).Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2012 Jul; 64(1):130-44.MP
The crustacean family Parabathynellidae is an ancient and significant faunal component of subterranean ecosystems. Molecular data were generated in order to examine phylogenetic relationships amongst Australian genera and assess the species diversity of this group within Australia. We also used the resultant phylogenetic framework, in combination with an ancestral state reconstruction (ASR) analysis, to explore the evolution of two key morphological characters (number of segments of the first and second antennae), previously used to define genera, and assess the oligomerization principle (i.e. serial appendage reduction over time), which is commonly invoked in crustacean systematics. The ASR approach also allowed an assessment of whether there has been convergent evolution of appendage numbers during the evolution of Australian parabathynellids. Sequence data from the mtDNA COI and nDNA 18S rRNA genes were obtained from 32 parabathynellid species (100% of described genera and ~25% of described species) from key groundwater regions across Australia. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that species of each known genus, defined by traditional morphological methods, were monophyletic, suggesting that the commonly used generic characters are robust for defining distinct evolutionary lineages. Additionally, ancestral state reconstruction analysis provided evidence for multiple cases of convergent evolution for the two morphological characters evaluated, suggesting that caution needs to be shown when using these characters for elucidating phylogenetic relationships, particularly when there are few morphological characters available for reconstructing relationships. The ancestral state analysis contradicted the conventional view of parabathynellid evolution, which assumes that more simplified taxa (i.e. those with fewer-segmented appendages and setae) are derived and more complex taxa are primitive.