Published in Journal of Molecular Evolution, Vol. 58, No. 3 (March 2004), 252-268. The original publication is available at
Available at doi:10.1007/s00239-003-2548-9.


Molecular investigations of deep-level relationships within and among the animal phyla have been hampered by a lack of slowly evolving genes that are amenable to study by molecular systematists. To provide new data for use in deep-level metazoan phylogenetic studies, primers were developed to amplify a 1.3-kb region of the alpha subunit of the nuclear-encoded sodium-potassium ATPase gene from 31 bilaterians representing several phyla. Maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian analyses of these sequences (combined with ATPase sequences for 23 taxa downloaded from GenBank) yield congruent trees that corroborate recent findings based on analyses of other data sets (e.g., the 18S ribosomal RNA gene). The ATPase-based trees support monophyly for several clades (including Lophotrochozoa, a form of Ecdysozoa, Vertebrata, Mollusca, Bivalvia, Gastropoda, Arachnida, Hexapoda, Coleoptera, and Diptera) but do not support monophyly for Deuterostomia, Arthropoda, or Nemertea. Parametric bootstrapping tests reject monophyly for Arthropoda and Nemertea but are unable to reject deuterostome monophyly. Overall, the sodium-potassium ATPase alpha-subunit gene appears to be useful for deep-level studies of metazoan phylogeny.