Bryozoans are a moderately diverse, mostly marine phylum with a fossil record extending to the Early Ordovician. Compared to other phyla, little is known about their phylogenetic relationships at both lower and higher taxonomic levels. Hence, an effort is being made to elucidate their phylogenetic relationships. Here, we present newly sequenced nuclear and mitochondrial genes for 21 cheilostome bryozoans. Combining these data with existing orthologous molecular data, we focus on reconstructing the phylogenetic relationships of Fenestrulina and Microporella, two species-rich genera. They are currently placed in Microporellidae, defined by having a semicircular primary orifice and a proximal ascopore. Our six-gene phylogenetic analysis reveals that the genera Fenestrulina and Microporella are each monophyletic, with the sister clade to Microporella comprising non-microporellids. Our result hence supports the reinstatement of the family Fenestrulinidae Jullien, 1888 for Fenestrulina and genera with comparable frontal shield and ooecial morphologies. Our well-supported phylogeny, based on independent molecular data, lends credit to existing phylogenetic hypotheses based on morphological observations but does not conform to the current classification of these bryozoans. This illustrates the general need for a rethink of bryozoan higher level systematics, ideally based on both morphological and molecular data.
Orr, R. J. S., Waeschenbach, A., Enevoldsen, E. L. G., Boeve, J. P., Haugen, M. N., Voje, K. L., Porter, J., Zagorsek, K., Smith, A. M., Gordon, D. P., & Hsiang Liow, L. (2018). Bryozoan genera Fenestrulina and Microporella no longer confamilial; multi-gene phylogeny supports separation. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, [zly055]. https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zly055