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Kocot, Kevin M.; Poustka, Albert J.; Stöger, Isabella; Halanych, Kenneth M. and Schrödl, Michael (2020): New data from Monoplacophora and a carefully-curated dataset resolve molluscan relationships. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 10, No. 1, 101 [PDF, 1MB]


Relationships among the major lineages of Mollusca have long been debated. Morphological studies have considered the rarely collected Monoplacophora (Tryblidia) to have several plesiomorphic molluscan traits. The phylogenetic position of this group is contentious as morphologists have generally placed this clade as the sister taxon of the rest of Conchifera whereas earlier molecular studies supported a clade of Monoplacophora +Polyplacophora (Serialia) and phylogenomic studies have generally recovered a clade of Monoplacophora +Cephalopoda. Phylogenomic studies have also strongly supported a clade including Gastropoda, Bivalvia, and Scaphopoda, but relationships among these taxa have been inconsistent. In order to resolve conchiferan relationships and improve understanding of early molluscan evolution, we carefully curated a high-quality data matrix and conducted phylogenomic analyses with broad taxon sampling including newly sequenced genomic data from the monoplacophoran Laevipilina antarctica. Whereas a partitioned maximum likelihood (ML) analysis using site-homogeneous models recovered Monoplacophora sister to Cephalopoda with moderate support, both ML and Bayesian inference (BI) analyses using mixture models recovered Monoplacophora sister to all other conchiferans with strong support. A supertree approach also recovered Monoplacophora as the sister taxon of a clade composed of the rest of Conchifera. Gastropoda was recovered as the sister taxon of Scaphopoda in most analyses, which was strongly supported when mixture models were used. A molecular clock based on our BI topology dates diversification of Mollusca to similar to 546 MYA (+/- 6 MYA) and Conchifera to similar to 540 MYA (+/- 9 MYA), generally consistent with previous work employing nuclear housekeeping genes. These results provide important resolution of conchiferan mollusc phylogeny and offer new insights into ancestral character states of major mollusc clades.

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