A new molecular phylogeny-based taxonomy of parasitic barnacles (Crustacea: Cirripedia: Rhizocephala)
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Rhizocephalans are abundant members of marine ecosystems and are important regulators of crustacean host populations. Morphological and ecological variation makes them an attractive system for evolutionary studies of advanced parasitism. Such studies have been impeded by a largely formalistic taxonomy, because rhizocephalan morphology offers no characters for a robust phylogenetic analysis. We use DNA sequence data to estimate a new phylogeny for 43 species and use this to develop a revised taxonomy for all Rhizocephala. Our taxonomy accepts 13 new or redefined monophyletic families. The traditional subdivision into the suborders Kentrogonida and Akentrogonida is abandoned, because both are polyphyletic. The three ‘classical’ kentrogonid families are also polyphyletic, including the species-rich Sacculinidae, which is split into a redefined and a new family. Most species of large families remain to be studied based on molecular evidence and are therefore still assigned to their current genus and family by default. We caution against undue generalizations from studies on model species until a more stable species-level taxonomy is also available, which requires more extensive genus- and species-level sampling with molecular tools. We briefly discuss the most promising future studies that will be facilitated by this new phylogeny-based taxonomy.