Over the last three decades, it has been progressively assumed that morphology has become obsolete for trypanosomatid systematics. Traditional taxonomy, based on the occurrence of specific kinds of cell morphotypes during life cycles and the morphometry of such cells, is often rejected by molecular phylogenies inferred mostly from 18S rDNA alone or combined with GAPDH. In such context, we hypothesized the affinities of 35 representatives of seven trypanosomatid genera from separated and combined cladistics analyses of morphological and 18S matrices. Morphology is shown to be more consistent and to have stronger synapomorphy retention than the 18S data. The strict consensus of cladograms from separated analyses was mostly unresolved, while combined analysis produced a meaningful and robust phylogenetic pattern, as evidenced by partition congruence index, Bremer support and frequencies of groups present/contradicted. The results (1) corroborate the separation of Angomonas and Strigomonas from Crithidia, which is now shown to be monophyletic, (2) support the revalidation of the genus Wallaceina, and (3) place the genera Herpetomonas, Leptomonas and Phytomonas within a single clade. Overall, we demonstrate the belief that morphological characters are inferior to molecular ones for trypanosomatid systematics is a consequence of neglecting their inclusion in phylogenetic analyses.
Cladistics – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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