Reappraisal of the " Molecular phylogeny of Western Palaearctic Helicidae s.l. (Gastropoda: Stylommatophora)": When poor science meets GenBank

  • Groenenberg D
  • Neubert E
  • Gittenberger E
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A paper on the 'Molecular phylogeny of Western Palaearctic Helicidae s.l.', published by Steinke et al. (2004) in this journal, is critically analysed. Several obvious errors are corrected and methodological weaknesses are revealed. BLAST searches on the sequences published in that paper and now in GenBank, showed high percentages of similarity of the alleged species with taxa that are considered only distantly related in the literature. Inspection of the so-called voucher specimens showed that some shells were misidentified, whereas others contained dirt or were bleached, indicating that these had been collected empty. Obviously the sequences published for those species could not have originated from those specimens, which cannot be considered vouchers therefore, even if they are from the same locality. In other instances, spurious sequences were published for correctly identified voucher specimens. For several species for which we collected specimens ourselves, the COI or the 16S sequence, or both, clearly differed from the results published by Steinke et al. The consequences of our results for the molecular data on helicid gastropods and their classification are listed. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

Author-supplied keywords

  • 'Pseudo-voucher'
  • 16S
  • COI
  • GenBank
  • Helicidae
  • Misidentification

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  • Dick S J Groenenberg

  • Eike Neubert

  • Edmund Gittenberger

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