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Diversity 2014, 6(2), 323-338; doi:10.3390/d6020323
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Planarian (Platyhelminthes, Tricladida) Diversity and Molecular Markers: A New View of an Old Group

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Received: 6 February 2014 / Revised: 24 March 2014 / Accepted: 27 March 2014 / Published: 15 April 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Use of Molecular Markers in Genetic Diversity Research)
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Abstract

Planarians are a group of free-living platyhelminths (triclads) best-known largely due to long-standing regeneration and pattern formation research. However, the group’s diversity and evolutionary history has been mostly overlooked. A few taxonomists have focused on certain groups, resulting in the description of many species and the establishment of higher-level groups within the Tricladida. However, the scarcity of morphological features precludes inference of phylogenetic relationships among these taxa. The incorporation of molecular markers to study their diversity and phylogenetic relationships has facilitated disentangling many conundrums related to planarians and even allowed their use as phylogeographic model organisms. Here, we present some case examples ranging from delimiting species in an integrative style, and barcoding them, to analysing their evolutionary history on a lower scale to infer processes affecting biodiversity origin, or on a higher scale to understand the genus level or even higher relationships. In many cases, these studies have allowed proposing better classifications and resulted in taxonomical changes. We also explain shortcomings resulting in a lack of resolution or power to apply the most up-to-date data analyses. Next-generation sequencing methodologies may help improve this situation and accelerate their use as model organisms.
Keywords: Platyhelminthes; Tricladida; Continenticola; mitochondrial markers; nuclear markers; DNAbarcoding; species delimitation; phylogeography; molecular phylogenetics Platyhelminthes; Tricladida; Continenticola; mitochondrial markers; nuclear markers; DNAbarcoding; species delimitation; phylogeography; molecular phylogenetics
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Álvarez-Presas, M.; Riutort, M. Planarian (Platyhelminthes, Tricladida) Diversity and Molecular Markers: A New View of an Old Group. Diversity 2014, 6, 323-338.

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