Phylogeny of Cidaroida (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) based on mitochondrial and nuclear markers
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We present the first molecular phylogeny of Cidaroida, one of the most problematic groups within the echinoids. Two genes—the nuclear ribosomal gene 28 S rRNA and the mitochondrial protein-encoding gene COI—were obtained from 21 specimens representing 17 genera and 20 species, among which 13 species belong to Cidaroida. Phylogenetic analyses of the combined molecular data using parsimony and maximum likelihood optimality criteria resulted in a well-resolved phylogeny. Our results are broadly compatible (with the notable exception of Cidaris cidaris) with previous results obtained from morphological data. We find that Cidaroida represent a monophyletic group sister to the non-cidaroid Echinoidea. The family Cidaridae sensu Mortensen (1928) and Fell (1966) is paraphyletic because of the placement of Psychocidaris ohshimai as sister-group to Histocidaris elegans. Inside the Stylocidarina, we show that the two Atlantic species Stylocidaris affinis and Stylocidaris lineata constitute a well-supported clade. However, these two taxa could also represent two morphotypes within a single species showing high morphological variation.