Organisms Diversity & Evolution

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 459–469 | Cite as

The phylogenetic position of Neogosseidae (Gastrotricha: Chaetonotida) and the origin of planktonic Gastrotricha

Original Article


Planktonic forms of Gastrotricha have been known since the 1850s, despite the fact that they are rather uncommon and difficult to collect. They are characterized by a round sack-shaped body, an absence of furcal adhesive tubes, and a different distribution of the locomotory ciliation compared to epibenthic and periphytic gastrotrichs. Today, planktonic gastrotrichs are classified into the three taxa—Dasydytidae, Neogosseidae, and Undula—but their origin and whether they share a recent common ancestor remain largely unknown. A long-held view is that planktonic taxa are derived from benthic ancestors related to Chaetonotus (Zonochaeta), but the hypothesis has never been properly tested. Here, in order to elucidate the phylogeny and origin of planktonic Gastrotricha, we provide the first molecular data on the very rare genera Kijanebalola and Neogossea, both members of the family Neogosseidae. We use Bayesian and maximum likelihood phylogenetics to analyze sequences of 18S rDNA, 28S rDNA, and COI mtDNA spanning 71 taxa in total. We find high support for a common origin of planktonic gastrotrichs, with monophyly of both Dasydytidae and Neogosseidae. Planktonic forms have evolved from epibenthic or periphytic ancestors, and the closest extant clade comprises members of Chaetonotus (Zonochaeta) + Chaetonotus heteracanthus Remane, 1927. These results further imply that the motile spines and underlying muscle patterns that control them in species of Dasydytidae are adaptations to the planktonic environment that evolved independently of those in other species of Gastrotricha.


Meiofauna Freshwater Planktonic Phylogeny Paucitubulatina 


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Copyright information

© Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologySwedish Museum of Natural HistoryStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Department of Life SciencesUniversity of Modena and Reggio EmiliaModenaItaly

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