Les cténophores : de leur position dans l'arbre des métazoaires (approche phylogénomique) à leur diversité taxonomique (phylogénie moléculaire et anatomie comparée)

Abstract : Ctenophores are one of the four animal phyla positioned outside from the Bilateria. Most ctenophore species are planktonic and gelatinous, and are easily recognisable by their eight comb rows used for swimming. Ctenophore systematics remains nowadays poorly understood. Anatomical characters do not help much in placing them within the animal tree, and similarly the grounds for establishment of their internal phylogeny as well as delimitation of species are notoriously weak due to a paucity of informative morpho-anatomical characters. Until now, the use of molecular data has failed to improve significantly this situation. The aim of this PhD thesis was to bring a contribution to our understanding of ctenophore evolution at different taxonomic scales. At the metazoan level, the position of ctenophores was addressed using a phylogenomic approach. Taxonomic sampling was significantly improved through sequencing and assembly of transcriptomes of 22 non-bilaterian species (belonging to ctenophores, cnidarians and sponges). Two independent datasets were analysed, one consisting in an update of an existing supermatrix of 128 genes, the other one (4235 genes) having been entirely built de novo, thanks to a newly-devised semi-automated protocol intended to eliminate all major potential causes of artefacts (contaminations, paralogies, missing data). Results clearly contradict recent phylogenomic studies which claimed Ctenophora to be the most early-diverging animal lineage, our analyses instead supporting Porifera as the sister-group to other metazoans. The exact position of ctenophores remains however uncertain at this stage, different conditions of analyses yielding three contradictory hypotheses as open possibilities. At the intra-phyletic level, analyses of a ADNr 18S and ITS (internal transcribed spacers) dataset, together with study of duplicated genes and the results of phylogenomic analyses, allowed resolving most phylogenetic relationships between ctenophore orders and families, including the placement of the ctenophore tree root. Finally, at smaller taxonomic scale, in-depth comparison between two species of the genus Pleurobrachia using immunohistochemistry demonstrates the potential of these techniques for uncovering new structural “micro-anatomical” characters useful for diagnosis and identification of ctenophore species. It is our hope that this work will contribute to improving the systematics of a poorly known phylum of great importance for understanding early animal evolution.
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Paul Simion. Les cténophores : de leur position dans l'arbre des métazoaires (approche phylogénomique) à leur diversité taxonomique (phylogénie moléculaire et anatomie comparée). Zoologie des invertébrés. Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris VI, 2014. Français. ⟨NNT : 2014PA066448⟩. ⟨tel-01165014⟩

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