The benthic communities of the Brazilian coast are among the most threatened by human activities, and yet the study of these organisms is still incipient, particularly with regard to marine meiofauna. The Nematoda phylum represents one of the most abundant and diverse groups of the meiobentos and can be a good model for monitoring environmental impacts, including effects of climate change process. However, the group is little studied taxonomically because of the high diversity, the absence of conspicuous morphological characters and the deficit of specialists. Integrative taxonomy is a promising but underused way of expanding knowledge about the group. The present proposal intends to evaluate in an integrative way morphological and molecular data, by means of statistical analyses, seeking to find homologous characters and to help in the taxonomic organization of the family Cyatholaimidae, one of the most abundant free-living marine nematodes. Sampling will be carried out in beaches and estuaries along the coast of the State of São Paulo, which presents a great heterogeneity of habitats and consequent potential to shelter new species for science. The collected Cyatholaimidae species will be evaluated morphologically with an optical and scanning microscope and the molecular data will be obtained by sequencing the D2-D3 regions of the 28S and V1-V2 of the 18S gene. From the molecular phylogeny obtained, different statistical methods of reconstruction of the ancestral state will be used to trace the evolution of definite characters, and to evaluate the relative importance of the same to the classification. The proposal also aim to describe possible new species and increase the knowledge of marine biodiversity of State of São Paulo.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: