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Integrative taxonomy: combining multiple approaches to better delimitation of South American species of the genus Milnesium Doyère 1840 (Tardigrada: Apochela: Milnesiidae)

Grant number: 18/25213-0
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): April 01, 2019
Effective date (End): March 31, 2020
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Taxonomy of Recent Groups
Principal Investigator:André Rinaldo Senna Garraffoni
Grantee:Emiliana Brotto Guidetti
Home Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:14/23856-0 - Phylogenetic reconstruction of Gastrotricha based on molecular and morphological data, AP.BTA.JP

Abstract

Tardigrades are aquatic microinvertebrates, which measure less than 1 mm in length and feature four pairs of "telescopic" legs terminated in claws or adhesive discs, and have a very characteristic buccal apparatus. These animals are known for their extreme resistance to adverse conditions, which inspires biomedical, biochemical and spatial research. They are distributed from the polar regions to the tropics but the understanding of their diversity and distribution is still limited, especially in the Neotropical region. In addition, many species described in the past were considered cosmopolitan, but the application of new morphological, molecular and morphometric studies has actually demonstrated the existence of some species complexes. The Milnesium tardigradum Doyère, 1840 is an example of this problem. Most of the records of M. tardigradum from the Americas date back to the period when this species was considered extremely cosmopolitan. However, current reviews of the genus using modern techniques indicate that M. tardigradum senso stricto is very likely to be restricted to Europe. Thus, there has recently been an increase in the number of descriptions of new species, but despite these advances, much of the South American territory, with significant potential to present tardigrades not yet described, remains unexplored. Considering this panorama, this project aims to promote a better delimitation of the species belonging to the Milnesium taxon from South America, providing a clear increase in the understanding about the diversity of these taxa. For this, multiple approaches will be used, such as light microscopy with interferential differential contrast, scanning electron microscopy and fluorescence microscopy, as well as morphometric and molecular analysis.