In Antarctic waters, the superfamily Lysianassoidea is one of the most important amphipod groups both in terms of species number and abundance. Dominant members of this superfamily are species of the orchomenid complex, found throughout the Southern Ocean. This study presents the first molecular phylogenetic analysis based on a representative subset of the Antarctic species belonging to different orchomenid genera and hence provides a framework for a systematic revision of these taxa. The current classification of the orchomenid genera is mainly based on mouthpart morphology. The validity of these morphological characters was assessed by resolving phylogenetic relationships using nuclear 28S rRNA and mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I sequences. The molecular data rejected most of the previously proposed taxonomic subdivisions within this complex. The genera Abyssorchomene and Orchomenella as well as the subgenus Orchomenopsis appeared to be non-monophyletic. This implies that the supposed diagnostic characters are likely a result of convergent evolution. Further, our results indicated the necessity of a revision of the family-level systematics.
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Oct 13, 2010