Phylogenetic analysis of Euthyneura (Gastropoda) by means of the 16S rRNA gene: use of a ‘fast’gene for ‘higher–level’ phylogenies

Mikael Thollesson

Abstract

The phylogeny of Euthyneura is analysed by using DNA sequences of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene. Despite the common notion that this gene is too variable to provide useful information at high taxonomic levels, such as in the present study, bootstrap proportions are high for several clades in the study. This indicates that there is a useful amount of variation despite the noise due to multiple substitutions. The analyses furthermore indicate that (i) Gymnosomata (represented by Clione) is not a part of Euthyneura, but Clione forms a clade with the caenogastropods; (ii) Acteon is the sister group to the remaining euthyneuran taxa in the study; (iii) the nudibranch taxa form two clades, one comprising Dendronotoidea, Arminoidea and Aeolidoidea (together Cladobranchia) with Notaspidea (represented by Berthella) as sister group, while the fourth nudibranch taxon, Doridoidea, forms a separate clade; (iv) Cephalaspidea s.s. and Anaspidea form clades that are each other's sister groups (together Pleurocoela). Finally, there is no clade present in the analyses corresponding to the taxon Opisthobranchia in the traditional sense, and the use of this name is probably better abandoned altogether.