, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 287-292

Molecular evidence for Acanthocephala as a subtaxon of Rotifera

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Rotifers are free-living animals usually smaller than 1 mm that possess a characteristic wheel organ. Acanthocephalans (thorny-headed worms) are larger endoparasitic animals that use vertebrates and arthropods to complete their life cycle. The taxa Acanthocephala and Rotifera are considered separate phyla, often within the taxon Aschelminthes. We have reexamined the relationship between Rotifera and Acanthocephala using 18S rRNA gene sequences. Our results conclusively show that Acanthocephala is the sister group of the rotifer class Bdelloidea. Rotifera was nonmonophyletic in all molecular analyses, which supports the hypothesis that the Acanthocephala represent a taxon within the phylum Rotifera and not a separate phylum. These results agree with a previous cladistic study of morphological characters.

Correspondence to: J.R. Garey