Tetillidae are spherical to elliptical cosmopolitan demosponges. The family comprises eight genera: namely, Acanthotetilla Burton, 1959, Amphitethya Lendenfeld, 1907, Cinachyra Sollas, 1886, Cinachyrella Wilson, 1925, Craniella Schmidt, 1870, Fangophilina Schmidt, 1880, Paratetilla Dendy, 1905, and Tetilla Schmidt, 1868. These genera are characterized by few conflicting morphological characters, resulting in an ambiguity of phylogenetic relationships. The phylogeny of tetillid genera was investigated using the cox1, 18S rRNA and 28S rRNA (C1-D2 domains) genes in 88 specimens (8 genera, 28 species). Five clades were identified: (i) Cinachyrella, Paratetilla and Amphitethya species, (ii) Cinachyrella levantinensis, (iii) Tetilla, (iv) Craniella, Cinachyra and Fangophilina and (v) Acanthotetilla. Consequently, the phylogenetic analysis supports the monophyly of Tetilla, a genus lacking any known morphological synapomorphy. Acanthotetilla is also recovered. In contrast, within the first clade, species of the genera Paratetilla and Amphitethya were nested within Cinachyrella. Similarly, within the fourth clade, species of the genera Cinachyra and Fangophilina were nested within Craniella. As previously postulated by taxonomists, the loss of ectodermal specialization (i.e., a cortex) has occurred several times independently. Nevertheless, the presence or absence of a cortex and its features carry a phylogenetic signal. Surprisingly, the common view that assumes close relationships among sponges with porocalices (i.e., surface depressions) is refuted.
- 18S rRNA
- 28S rRNA