Phylogenetic position of the Pentastomida and (pan)crustacean relationships

Dennis V. Lavrov, Wesley M. Brown, Jeffrey L. Boore

Abstract

Pentastomids are a small group of vermiform animals with unique morphology and parasitic lifestyle. They are generally recognized as being related to the Arthropoda; however, the nature of this relationship is controversial. We have determined the complete sequence of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of the pentastomid Armillifer armillatus and complete or nearly complete mtDNA sequences from representatives of four previously unsampled groups of Crustacea: Remipedia (Speleonectes tulumensis), Cephalocarida (Hutchinsoniella macracantha), Cirripedia (Pollicipes polymerus) and Branchiura (Argulus americanus). Analyses of the mtDNA gene arrangements and sequences determined in this study indicate unambiguously that pentastomids are a group of modified crustaceans probably related to branchiurans. In addition, gene arrangement comparisons strongly support an unforeseen assemblage of pentastomids with maxillopod and cephalocarid crustaceans, to the exclusion of remipedes, branchiopods, malacostracans and hexapods.