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Curr Biol. 2001 May 15;11(10):759-63.

Hox genes and the phylogeny of the arthropods.

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University Museum of Zoology, Downing Street, CB2 3EJ, Cambridge, United Kingdom.


The arthropods are the most speciose, and among the most morphologically diverse, of the animal phyla. Their evolution has been the subject of intense research for well over a century, yet the relationships among the four extant arthropod subphyla - chelicerates, crustaceans, hexapods, and myriapods - are still not fully resolved. Morphological taxonomies have often placed hexapods and myriapods together (the Atelocerata) [1, 2], but recent molecular studies have generally supported a hexapod/crustacean clade [2-9]. A cluster of regulatory genes, the Hox genes, control segment identity in arthropods, and comparisons of the sequences and functions of Hox genes can reveal evolutionary relationships [10]. We used Hox gene sequences from a range of arthropod taxa, including new data from a basal hexapod and a myriapod, to estimate a phylogeny of the arthropods. Our data support the hypothesis that insects and crustaceans form a single clade within the arthropods to the exclusion of myriapods. They also suggest that myriapods are more closely allied to the chelicerates than to this insect/crustacean clade.

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