Molecular phylogenies challenge the classification of Polymastiidae (Porifera, Demospongiae) based on morphology
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Polymastiidae Gray, 1867 is a worldwide distributed sponge family, which has a great significance for understanding of the demosponge deep phylogeny since the former order Hadromerida Topsent, 1894 has been recently split based on the molecular evidence and a new separate order has been established for the polymastiids. However, molecular data obtained from Polymastiidae so far are scarce, while the phylogenetic reconstruction based on morphology has faced a deficit of characters along with the vagueness of their states. The present study is a phylogenetic reconstruction of Polymastiidae based on novel data on two molecular markers, cytochrome oxidase subunit I and large subunit ribosomal DNA, obtained from a broad set of species. Monophyly of the family and nonmonophyly of four polymastiid genera are revealed, suggesting a high level of homoplasy of morphological characters, which are therefore not an appropriate base for the natural classification of Polymastiidae. Although the presented phylogenies cannot yet provide an alternative classification scheme, several strongly supported clades, which may be used as reference points in future classification, are recovered and three taxonomic actions are proposed: transfer of one species from Radiella to Polymastia Bowerbank, 1862; transfer of three species from Radiella Schmidt, 1870 to Spinularia Gray, 1867; and the consequent abandonment of Radiella.