Molecular phylogeny of oribatid mites (Oribatida, Acari): evidence for multiple radiations of parthenogenetic lineages

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Nucleotide sequences of the D3 expansion segment and its flanking regions of the 28S rDNA gene were used to evaluate phylogenetic relationships among representative sexual and asexual oribatid mites (Oribatida, Acariformes). The aim of this study was to investigate the hypothesis that oribatid mites consist of species rich clusters of asexual species that may have radiated while being parthenogenetic. Furthermore, the systematic position of the astigmate mites (Astigmata, Acariformes) which have been hypothesised to represent a paedomorphic lineage within the oribatid mites, is investigated. This is the first phylogenetic tree for oribatid mites s.1. (incl. Astigmata) based on nucleotide sequences. Intraspecific genetic variation in the D3 region was very low, confirming the hypothesis that this region is a good species marker. Results from neighbour joining (NJ) and maximum parsimony (MP) algorithms indicate that several species rich parthenogenetic groups like Camisiidae, Nanhermanniidae and Malaconothridae are monophyletic, consistent with the hypothesis that some oribatid mite groups diversified despite being parthenogenetic. The MP and maximum likelihood (ML) method indicated that the D3 region is a good tool for elucidating the relationship of oribatid mite species on a small scale (genera, families) but is not reliable for large scale taxonomy because branches from the NJ algorithm collapsed in the MP and ML tree. In all trees calculated by different algorithms the Astigmata clustered within the oribatid mites, as proposed earlier.

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