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Stöger, I.; Sigwart, J. D.; Kano, Y.; Knebelsberger, T.; Marshall, B. A.; Schwabe, E. und Schrödl, Michael (2013): The Continuing Debate on Deep Molluscan Phylogeny: Evidence for Serialia (Mollusca, Monoplacophora plus Polyplacophora). In: Biomed Research International, Vol. 2013, 407072




Molluscs are a diverse animal phylum with a formidable fossil record. Although there is little doubt about the monophyly of the eight extant classes, relationships between these groups are controversial. We analysed a comprehensive multilocus molecular data set for molluscs, the first to include multiple species from all classes, including five monoplacophorans in both extant families. Our analyses of five markers resolve two major clades: the first includes gastropods and bivalves sister to Serialia (monoplacophorans and chitons), and the second comprises scaphopods sister to aplacophorans and cephalopods. Traditional groupings such as Testaria, Aculifera, and Conchifera are rejected by our data with significant Approximately Unbiased (AU) test values. A new molecular clock indicates that molluscs had a terminal Precambrian origin with rapid divergence of all eight extant classes in the Cambrian. The recovery of Serialia as a derived, Late Cambrian clade is potentially in line with the stratigraphic chronology of morphologically heterogeneous early mollusc fossils. Serialia is in conflict with traditional molluscan classifications and recent phylogenomic data. Yet our hypothesis, as others from molecular data, implies frequent molluscan shell and body transformations by heterochronic shifts in development and multiple convergent adaptations, leading to the variable shells and body plans in extant lineages.