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Evol Dev. 1999 Nov-Dec;1(3):166-71.

Hemichordates and deuterostome evolution: robust molecular phylogenetic support for a hemichordate + echinoderm clade.

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  • 1Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Queensland, Brisbane 4072, Australia.


Hemichordates were traditionally allied to the chordates, but recent molecular analyses have suggested that hemichordates are a sister group to the echinoderms, a relationship that has important consequences for the interpretation of the evolution of deuterostome body plans. However, the molecular phylogenetic analyses to date have not provided robust support for the hemichordate + echinoderm clade. We use a maximum likelihood framework, including the parametric bootstrap, to reanalyze DNA data from complete mitochondrial genomes and nuclear 18S rRNA. This approach provides the first statistically significant support for the hemichordate + echinoderm clade from molecular data. This grouping implies that the ancestral deuterostome had features that included an adult with a pharynx and a dorsal nerve cord and an indirectly developing dipleurula-like larva.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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