|Title||Phylogenetic relationships within the phylum Nematoda as revealed by ribosomal DNA, and their biological implications|
|Source||Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Jaap Bakker, co-promotor(en): Hans Helder. - [S.l.] : S.n. - ISBN 9789085048800 - 208|
Laboratory of Nematology
|Publication type||Dissertation, internally prepared|
|Keyword(s)||nematoda - ribosomaal dna - fylogenetica - klassering volgens erfelijke eigenschappen - fylogenie - plantenparasitaire nematoden - vrijlevende nematoden - dorylaimidae - chromadoridae - tylenchidae - zeenematoden - single nucleotide polymorphism - nematoda - ribosomal dna - phylogenetics - cladistics - phylogeny - plant parasitic nematodes - free living nematodes - dorylaimidae - chromadoridae - tylenchidae - marine nematodes - single nucleotide polymorphism|
|Categories||Agricultural Nematology (General)|
|Abstract||Nematodes – “eel worms”; members of the phylum Nematoda – can be considered as a success story within the Metazoa (multicellular, heterotrophic eukaryotes in which cells lack cell walls): they are speciose and – probably - the most numerous group of multicellular animals on our planet. Nematodes are present in virtually all terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats. Nematodes are trophically diverse; they may feed on bacteria, fungi/oomycetes, algae and protozoa, other nematodes or on a combination of these (omnivores), or live as facultative or obligatory parasites of plants or animals. As they are abundant, ubiquitous and occupy several trophic levels, they play an important role in the soil food web. Nematode parasites of animals affect billions of humans and livestock, while plant parasites such as cyst, root knot and lesion nematodes cause large agricultural losses worldwide.
Despite their undisputed ecological and economical relevance, the systematics of the phylum Nematoda is far from established. One of the aims of this research was to further elucidate nematode phylogeny using molecular data. First a phylogenetic tree was constructed of 349 taxa, spanning the entire phylum Nematoda, on the basis of full length small subunit ribosomal DNA (SSU rDNA) sequences. A series of mostly well-supported bifurcations defined twelve major clades, whereas the most basal clade was defined by representatives of the Enoplida and Triplonchida. Our analysis confirmed the paraphyly of the Adenophorea. Furthermore it was found that the SSU rDNA from representatives of the distal clades evolved at a higher rate than the SSU rDNA from the basal clades. In the meantime, a substantial number of sequences was added to our overall SSU rDNA nematode alignment - both public data (GenBank) and data generated by ourselves (≈ 1,500 sequences in total; February 2008). It is noted that the clade division as proposed in 2006 on the basis of “only” 349 taxa still seems to be valid.
Subsequent research focused on three specific groups; Dorylaimia, Chromadoria and Tylenchomorpha. Within the suborder Dorylaimina, the SSU rDNA provided an exceptionally low phylogenetic signal, and - therefore – a part (≈ 1,000 bp) of the more variable large subunit ribosomal DNA (LSU rDNA) was analyzed. In most cases nematode relationships could be elucidated with good support, although some areas in the trees remained unresolved. Generally speaking the results of molecular phylogenetics corresponded fairly well with classical nematode taxonomy. The main exception was the order Dorylaimida where twelve subclades could be distinguished which bore little resemblance to classical taxonomy. Furthermore the suitability of ribosomal DNA for a (semi-) quantative molecular identification method was demonstrated using quantitative PCR (q-PCR) and primers designed to specifically amplify members of the order Mononchida and the potato cyst nematodes Globodera pallida and G. rostochiensis.
Plant parasitism has arisen several times within the phylum Nematoda (once in the Triplonchida, at least three times in the Dorylaimida and at least twice in the Tylenchomorpha). The long-standing and generally accepted hypothesis states that plant parasites evolved from fungal feeding ancestors. However, while in most cases plant parasites were associated with fungal feeding nematodes, this hypothesis could neither be confirmed nor denied with the results of our phylogenetic analyses. In the case of two Dorylaimida (Pungentus and Longidorella), however, the ancestor was probably an omnivore. The analysis of this problem was substantially hampered by the lack of knowledge on feeding behavior of basal Tylenchomorpha.
Presumably, the common ancestor of the nematodes lived in a marine environment and - if this assumption is correct - the transition to a limnoterrestrial environment must have taken place at least once. Surprisingly, analysis of the Chromadoria (minus the Rhabditida) revealed that transitions from a thalassic to a limnoterrestrial habitat (and vice versa) have taken place at least 11 times in the Chromadoria. Given their frequency these transitions are apparently fairly easy to achieve for nematodes and the possible adaptations involved were discussed.
Nematodes vary widely in their responses to environmental disturbance, making them good bio-indicators of soil health. Yet it is not known with certainty which traits are responsible for tolerance to stress in nematodes. A framework was laid out to study correlations between nematode traits and stress tolerance. Furthermore the importance of accounting for the confounding effects of phylogeny was demonstrated. This is a first step towards a transparent, ecological grouping of free-living nematodes.
It is worthwhile mentioning that - on the basis of the rDNA-based molecular framework described in this PhD thesis - DNA sequences signatures were identified for nearly all North-West European terrestrial and freshwater nematodes families. The relationship between quantitative PCR signal and numbers of individuals has been established for nearly all families and a first testing of DNA barcode-based community analysis is planned for spring 2008.