The Darwinulidae are the only surviving post-Palaeozoic darwinulocopine family of an extensive radiation that reached its maximum in the Permian. Whereas at least some Palaeozoic darwinulids are known from sexual populations, the surviving lineages after the end-Permian mass extinction have abandoned sex since 200 million years ago. This makes the extant family Darwinulidae one of the few putative ancient asexual groups. Only about 30 species in 5 genera are presently known. The phylogeny of these taxa is here analysed using both morphological characters and molecular data. Twelve characters on valve morphology and 17 characters pertaining to appendages are used to construct the most parsimonious (unrooted) cladogram of 12 species in 5 genera. DNA sequences of one nuclear (ITS1) and a mitochondrial (COI) gene of 6 species in 5 genera are used to construct rooted maximum parsimony trees. Both molecular and morphological trees show a high degree of congruence, indicating that Alicenula and Vestalenula mostly cluster closely together, while Penthesilenula and Microdarwinula constitute a robust group. The position of the monospecific genus Darwinulais more variable, but is mostly closer to the two former genera. Congeneric species always cluster together in the morphological cladograms, and these results thus confirm that the five genera recognised by Rossetti & Martens (1998) are good phyletic units. An approximate molecular clock (calibrated with fossil data) indicates that the extant darwinulids share a common ancestor, which lived at least 100 million years ago.
Molecular and morphological phylogeny of the ancient asexual Darwinulidae (Crustacea, Ostracoda) / K. MARTENS; G. ROSSETTI; R. BUTLIN; I. SCHOEN. - In: HYDROBIOLOGIA. - ISSN 0018-8158. - 538:1-3(2005), pp. 153-165. [10.1007/s10750-004-4945-5]
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