Articles | Volume 20, issue 2
01 Dec 2001
 | 01 Dec 2001

The molecular phylogenetic status of Elphidium williamsoni (Haynes, 1973) as inferred from partial 18S-rDNA sequences

Martin R. Langer

Abstract. Comparative studies on DNA nucleotide sequences have revolutionized our understanding of the phylogenetic relationships of many organisms and have become an important tool in evolutionary, ecological and palaeobiological inquiry. We have analysed partial small-subunit 18S sequences (srDNA) of Elphidium williamsoni (Haynes, 1973), a common intertidal benthic foraminiferid from the North Sea. The molecular phylogenetic analysis of the ribosomal rDNA sequence data indicate that E. williamsoni constitutes a well-defined genetic entity that is closely related to Elphidium aculeatum.

Elphidium williamsoni is a prominent and frequently encountered foraminiferid in the North Sea and other tidal flats. It was originally described by Williamson (1858) as Polystomella umbilicata and subsequently renamed by Haynes (1973). Because of its phenotypic similarities with other elphidiids, this species has been frequently confused with, for example E. excavatum or Cribrononion alvarezianum (see Haynes for discussion). The molecular data provided here, and their direct comparison to other benthic foraminifera including one elphidiid, may therefore provide additional insight into the taxonomic status and the validity of this species.

Individuals of the foraminiferid Elphidium williamsoni were collected in October 1997 from the intertidal mud flats of the Crildumersiel at the outer Jade Bay near Wilhelmshaven, North Sea (see Langer et al., 1989 for details). The mud flats are characterized by fine-grained, muddy sediments containing high contents of organic material. In the laboratory, specimens were transferred into petri dishes, examined and cleaned under a stereo microscope. Living specimens of E. williamsoni were picked out separately and placed into clean glass dishes containing filtered. . .