Class-level relationships in the phylum Cnidaria: molecular and morphological evidence.
The evolutionary history of cnidarian life cycles has been debated since the 1880s, with different hypotheses favored even by current textbooks. Contributing to the disagreement is the fact that the systematic relationships of the four cnidarian classes have received relatively little examination using modern systematic methods. Here we present analyses of class-level relationships based on 18S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) sequence, mitochondrial 16S rDNA sequence, mitochondrial genome structure, and morphological characters. DNA sequences were aligned using a repeatable parsimony-based approach incorporating a range of alignment parameters. Analyses of individual data sets and of all data combined are unanimous in grouping the classes possessing a medusa stage, leaving the holobenthic Anthozoa basal within the phylum.
Bridge, D; Cunningham, CW; DeSalle, R; Buss, LW
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