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High diversity and pan-oceanic distribution of deep-sea polychaetes: Prionospio and Aurospio (Annelida: Spionidae) in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean

Journal article
Authors Theresa Guggolz
Karin Meissner
Martin Schwentner
Thomas G. Dahlgren
Helena Wiklund
Paulo Bonifacio
Angelika Brandt
Published in Organisms Diversity & Evolution
ISSN 1439-6092
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of marine sciences
Language en
Subject categories Biological Systematics, Genetics, Zoology


Prionospio Malmgren 1867 and Aurospio Maciolek 1981 (Annelida: Spionidae) are polychaete genera commonly found in the deep sea. Both genera belong to the Prionospio complex, whose members are known to have limited distinguishing characters. Morphological identification of specimens from the deep sea is challenging, as fragmentation and other damages are common during sampling. These issues impede investigations into the distribution patterns of these genera in the deep sea. In this study, we employ two molecular markers (16S rRNA and 18S) to study the diversity and the distribution patterns of Prionospio and Aurospio from the tropical North Atlantic, the Puerto Rico Trench and the central Pacific. Based on different molecular analyses (Automated Barcode Gap Discovery, GMYC, pairwise genetic distances, phylogenetics, haplotype networks), we were able to identify and differentiate 21 lineages (three lineages composed solely of GenBank entries) that represent putative species. Seven of these lineages exhibited pan-oceanic distributions (occurring in the Atlantic as well as the Pacific) in some cases even sharing identical 16S rRNA haplotypes in both oceans. Even the lineages found to be restricted to one of the oceans were distributed over large regional scales as for example across the Mid-Atlantic Ridge from the Caribbean to the eastern Atlantic (> 3389 km). Our results suggest that members of Prionospio and Aurospio may have the potential to disperse across large geographic distances, largely unaffected by topographic barriers and possibly even between oceans. Their high dispersal capacities are probably explained by their free-swimming long-lived planktonic larvae.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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