Comparison of articulate brachiopod nuclear and mitochondrial gene trees leads to a clade–based redefinition of protostomes (Protostomozoa) and deuterostomes (Deuterostomozoa)

B. L Cohen, S Stark, A. B Gawthrop, M. E Burke, C. W Thayer


Nuclear and mtDNA sequences from selected short–looped terebratuloid (terebratulacean) articulate brachiopods yield congruent and genetically independent phylogenetic reconstructions by parsimony, neighbor–joining and maximum likelihood methods, suggesting that both sources of data are reliable guides to brachiopod species phylogeny. The present–day genealogical relationships and geographical distributions of the tested terebratuloid brachiopods are consistent with a tethyan dispersal and subsequent radiation. Concordance of nuclear and mitochondrial gene phylogenies reinforces previous indications that articulate brachiopods, inarticulate brachiopods, phoronids and ectoprocts cluster with other organisms generally regarded as protostomes. Since ontogeny and morphology in brachiopods, ectoprocts and phoronids depart in important respects from those features supposedly diagnostic of protostomes, this demonstrates that the operational definition of protostomy by the usual ontological characters must be misleading or unreliable. New, molecular, operational definitions are proposed to replace the traditional criteria for the recognition of protostomes and deuterostomes, and the clade–based terms ‘Protostomozoa’ and ‘Deuterostomozoa’ are proposed to replace the existing terms ‘Protostomia’ and ‘Deuterostomia’.