Gastropoda, Nudibranchia, Dexiarchia, Evolution
The Dexiarchia comprises at least 2,000 species with many additional species still undescribed. Currently, 34 families with nearly 100 different genera are recognized. However, irrespective of methodology as we will outline in more detail below, there exist no phylogenetic analyses of Dexiarchia that comprises all major families and corroborates relationships within this group.
In our project we investigate this long standing problem by exploiting already extracted DNA and preserved material for target DNA enrichment of single-copy protein-coding genes and combining the results with morphological analyses. Resulting phylogenetic hypotheses will form the base for the investigation of the evolution of this highly diverse group with extraordinary biological phenomena. It is the first time that both techniques – molecular markers and morphological features – will be combined to help resolving some of the incongruences in our current understanding of marine heterobranch evolution. As such, our project is of broad interest to researchers working on this taxon and it will stand as a model for future analyses on other groups of molluscs.