Eriophyoid, or four-legged mites, represent a large and ancient radiation of exclusively phytophagous organisms known from the Triassic (230 Mya). Hypothesizing phylogenetic relatedness of Eriophyoidea among mites is a major challenge due to the absence of unambiguous morphological synapomorphies, resulting in ten published hypotheses placing eriophyoids in various places in the acariform tree of life. Here we test the evolutionary relationships of eriophyoids using six genes and a representative taxonomic sampling of acariform mites. The total evidence analysis places eriophyoids as the sister group of the deep soil-dwelling, vermiform family Nematalycidae (Endeostigmata). This arrangement was supported by the rDNA and CO1 partitions. In contrast, the nuclear protein partition (genes EF1-α, SRP54, HSP70) suggests that Eriophyoidea is sister to a lineage including Tydeidae, Ereynetidae, and Eupodidae (Eupodina: Trombidiformes). On both of these alternative topologies, eriophyoids appear as a long branch, probably involving the loss of basal diversity in early evolution. We analyze this result by using phylogenetically explicit hypothesis testing, investigating the phylogenetic signal from individual genes and rDNA stem and loop regions, and removing long branches and rogue taxa. Regardless of the two alternative placements, (i) the cheliceral morphology of eriophyoids, one of the traits deemed phylogenetically important, was likely derived directly from the plesiomorphic acariform chelicerae rather than from the modified chelicerae of some trombidiform lineages with a reduced fixed digit; and (ii) two potential synapomorphies of Eriophyoidea+Raphignathina (Trombidiformes) related to the reduction of genital papillae and to the terminal position of PS segment can be dismissed as result of convergent evolution. Our analyses substantially narrow the remaining available hypotheses on eriophyoid relationships and provide insights on the early evolution of acariform mites.
Предметные области Scopus
- Экология, эволюция поведение и систематика
- Молекулярная биология