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Phylogenetics of Trachylina (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa) with new insights on the evolution of some problematical taxa

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 September 2008

Allen G. Collins*
NMFS, National Systematics Laboratory, National Museum of Natural History, MRC-153, Smithsonian Institution, PO Box 37012, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA
Bastian Bentlage
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, 1200 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA
Alberto Lindner
Centro de Biologia Marinha—USP–Rodovia Manoel Hipólito do Rego, Km 131, 5—São Sebastião, SP, Brazil
Dhugal Lindsay
Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), Yokosuka, Japan
Steven H.D. Haddock
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, 7700 Sandholdt Road, Moss Landing, CA 95039, USA
Gerhard Jarms
Biozentrum Grindel und Zoologisches Museum, Universität Hamburg, Martin-Luther-King Platz 3, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
Jon L. Norenburg
Smithsonian Institution, PO Box 37012, Invertebrate Zoology, NMNH, W-216, MRC163, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA
Thomas Jankowski
Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Dübendorf 8600, Switzerland
Paulyn Cartwright
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, 1200 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA
Correspondence should be addressed to: Allen G. Collins, NMFS, National Systematics Laboratory, National Museum of Natural History, MRC-153, Smithsonian Institution, PO Box 37012, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA email:


Some of the most interesting and enigmatic cnidarians are classified within the hydrozoan subclass Trachylina. Despite being relatively depauperate in species richness, the clade contains four taxa typically accorded ordinal status: Actinulida, Limnomedusae, Narcomedusae and Trachymedusae. We bring molecular data (mitochondrial 16S and nuclear small and large subunit ribosomal genes) to bear on the question of phylogenetic relationships within Trachylina. Surprisingly, we find that a diminutive polyp form, Microhydrula limopsicola (classified within Limnomedusae) is actually a previously unknown life stage of a species of Stauromedusae. Our data confirm that the interstitial form Halammohydra sp. (Actinulida) is derived from holopelagic direct developing ancestors, likely within the trachymedusan family Rhopalonematidae. Trachymedusae is shown to be diphyletic, suggesting that the polyp stage has been lost independently at least two times within trachyline evolution. Narcomedusae is supported as a monophyletic group likely also arising from trachymedusan ancestors. Finally, some data, albeit limited, suggest that some trachyline species names refer to cryptic species that have yet to be sorted taxonomically.

Research Article
Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2008

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