Brachionus quadridentatus is a morphologically variable species distributed worldwide. Its taxonomy is confusing due the numerous infrasubspecific variants described in the taxon. Here we explore genetic diversity of certain B. quadridentatus populations, using sequences of COI mtDNA and 18S rDNA genes. With traditional morphology (taxonomic keys), the specimens identified fell into three recognized variants: B. quadridentatus quadridentatus, B. quadridentatus f. brevispinus and B. quadridentatus f. cluniorbicularis. The coalescent species delimitation analysis highly supports the presence of at least three putative species within B. quadridentatus complex in agreement with the phylogenetic result and GMYC analysis with the 18S gene. Nevertheless, the morphological and mitochondrial information show that the variation within each of the three putative species is much more extensive, finding seven monophyletic and highly divergent genetic groups (>10%) that have congruence with the morphotypes found in this study and ABGD analysis, which display clear morphological differences mainly in the diagnostic characters.

Keywords: biodiversity, cytochrome c oxidase 1, 18S, monogonont, species tree