Wang, Y.; Xie, Q. (2014). The Molecular Symplesiomorphies Shared by the Stem Groups of Metazoan Evolution: Can Sites as Few as 1% Have a Significant Impact on Recognizing the Phylogenetic Position of Myzostomida?. Journal of Molecular Evolution. 79(1-2): 63-74.
The Molecular Symplesiomorphies Shared by the Stem Groups of Metazoan Evolution: Can Sites as Few as 1% Have a Significant Impact on Recognizing the Phylogenetic Position of Myzostomida?
Journal of Molecular Evolution
World Polychaeta Database (WPolyDb)
Although it is clear that taxon sampling, alignments, gene sampling, tree reconstruction methods and the total length of the sequences used are critical to the reconstruction of evolutionary history, weakly supported or misleading nodes exist in phylogenetic studies with no obvious flaw in those aspects. The phylogenetic studies focusing on the basal part of bilaterian evolution are such a case. During the past decade, Myzostomida has appeared in the basal part of Bilateria in several phylogenetic studies of Metazoa. However, most researchers have entertained only two competing hypotheses about the position of Myzostomida- an affinity with Annelida and an affinity with Platyhelminthes. In this study, dozens of symplesiomorphies were discovered by means of ancestral state reconstruction in the complete 18S and 28S rDNAs shared by the stem groups of Metazoa. By contrastive analysis on the datasets with or without such symplesiomorphic sites, we discovered that Myzostomida and other basal groups are basal lineages of Bilateria due to the corresponding symplesiomorphies shared with earlier lineages. As such, symplesiomorphies account for approximately 1-2 % of the whole dataset have an essential impact on phylogenetic inference, and this study reminds molecular systematists of the importance of carrying out ancestral state reconstruction at each site in sequence-based phylogenetic studies. In addition, reasons should be explored for the low support of the hypothesis that Myzostomida belongs to Annelida in the results of phylogenomic studies. Future phylogenetic studies concerning Myzostomida should include all of the basal lineages of Bilateria to avoid directly neglecting the stand-alone basal position of Myzostomida as a potential hypothesis.