The monophyletic origin of a remarkable sexual system in akentrogonid rhizocephalan parasites: A molecular and larval structural study

We use sequences from the nuclear ribosomal genes, 18S and 285 to analyze the phylogeny of the Rhizocephala Akentrogonida including two species, Clistosaccus paguri and Chthamalophilus delagei, that are critical for understanding rhizocephalan evolution but have not previously been part of a molecularly based study. In addition we use light and scanning electron microscopy to compare the cypris larvae of C. paguri, Sylon hippolytes and two species of the family Thompsoniidae, since this larval stage offers a suite of characters for analyzing the evolution of these otherwise highly reduced parasites. The Rhizocephala Akentrogonida form a monophyletic group nested within a paraphyletic