Molecular phylogeny of North American Branchiobdellida (Annelida: Clitellata)
Branchiobdellidans, or crayfish worms, are ectosymbiotic clitellate annelids associated primarily with freshwater crayfishes. The main objectives of our study were to infer a molecular phylogeny for the North American Branchiobdellida, examine its congruence with morphology-based hypotheses of relationships at the subfamily and genus level, and use our dataset to assess consistency of GenBank-archived branchiobdellidan sequences. We used nucleotide sequence data from two mtDNA genes (COI and 16S rDNA) and three nuclear genes (28S rDNA, 18S rDNA, and ITS1) to estimate phylogenetic relationships among 47 described and one undescribed species of Branchiobdellida. We recovered a monophyletic branchiobdellidan clade with generally short branch lengths, suggesting that a large portion of the taxon has likely undergone a recent and rapid radiation in North America. Results from our phylogenetic analyses indicate that current taxonomic groupings are largely unsupported by the molecular data. All four subfamilies are either paraphyletic or polyphyletic, and only three of seven sampled non-monotypic genera were monophyletic. We found a high rate (49%) of inconsistency in GenBank-archived sequences, over 70% of which can be attributed to field- or laboratory-based error. âº We provide the most comprehensive taxon and gene sampling for the group to date. âº We construct a multi-locus phylogeny for North American Branchiobdellida. âº Monophyly of none of the 4 subfamilies was supported by our data. âº Our data supported monophyly of only three of seven sampled non-monotypic genera. âº We found inconsistency in 49% (18/37) of archived GenBank sequences for the taxon.