Despite the prominence of Caenorhabditis elegans as a major developmental and genetic model system, its phylogenetic relationship to its closest relatives has not been resolved. Resolution of these relationships is necessary for studying the steps that underlie life history, genomic, and morphological evolution of this important system. By using data from five different nuclear genes from 10 Caenorhabditis species currently in culture, we find a well resolved phylogeny that reveals three striking patterns in the evolution of this animal group: (i) Hermaphroditism has evolved independently in C. elegans and its close relative Caenorhabditis briggsae; (ii) there is a large degree of intron turnover within Caenorhabditis, and intron losses are much more frequent than intron gains; and (iii) despite the lack of marked morphological diversity, more genetic disparity is present within this one genus than has occurred within all vertebrates.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Jun 15 2004|
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