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Nat Ecol Evol. 2017 Nov;1(11):1737-1746. doi: 10.1038/s41559-017-0331-3. Epub 2017 Oct 9.

Ctenophore relationships and their placement as the sister group to all other animals.

Author information

1
Molette Biology Laboratory for Environmental and Climate Change Studies, Department of Biological Sciences, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, 36849, USA. nathan_whelan@fws.gov.
2
Warm Springs Fish Technology Center, US Fish and Wildlife Service, 5308 Spring St, Warm Springs, GA, 31830, USA. nathan_whelan@fws.gov.
3
Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Alabama, Box 870344, Tuscaloosa, AL, 35487, USA.
4
The Whitney Laboratory for Marine Biosciences, University of Florida, St. Augustine, FL, 32080, USA.
5
Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611, USA.
6
The Whitney Laboratory for Marine Biosciences, University of Florida, St. Augustine, FL, 32080, USA. moroz@whitney.ufl.edu.
7
Department of Neuroscience and McKnight Brain Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611, USA. moroz@whitney.ufl.edu.
8
Molette Biology Laboratory for Environmental and Climate Change Studies, Department of Biological Sciences, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, 36849, USA. ken@auburn.edu.

Abstract

Ctenophora, comprising approximately 200 described species, is an important lineage for understanding metazoan evolution and is of great ecological and economic importance. Ctenophore diversity includes species with unique colloblasts used for prey capture, smooth and striated muscles, benthic and pelagic lifestyles, and locomotion with ciliated paddles or muscular propulsion. However, the ancestral states of traits are debated and relationships among many lineages are unresolved. Here, using 27 newly sequenced ctenophore transcriptomes, publicly available data and methods to control systematic error, we establish the placement of Ctenophora as the sister group to all other animals and refine the phylogenetic relationships within ctenophores. Molecular clock analyses suggest modern ctenophore diversity originated approximately 350 million years ago ± 88 million years, conflicting with previous hypotheses, which suggest it originated approximately 65 million years ago. We recover Euplokamis dunlapae-a species with striated muscles-as the sister lineage to other sampled ctenophores. Ancestral state reconstruction shows that the most recent common ancestor of extant ctenophores was pelagic, possessed tentacles, was bioluminescent and did not have separate sexes. Our results imply at least two transitions from a pelagic to benthic lifestyle within Ctenophora, suggesting that such transitions were more common in animal diversification than previously thought.

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PMID:
28993654
PMCID:
PMC5664179
DOI:
10.1038/s41559-017-0331-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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