Send to

Choose Destination
Nature. 2011 Mar 3;471(7336):95-8. doi: 10.1038/nature09864.

Phylogenomic analyses unravel annelid evolution.

Author information

University of Osnabrück, FB05 Biology/Chemistry, AG Zoology, Barbarastrasse 11, 49069 Osnabrück, Germany.


Annelida, the ringed worms, is a highly diverse animal phylum that includes more than 15,000 described species and constitutes the dominant benthic macrofauna from the intertidal zone down to the deep sea. A robust annelid phylogeny would shape our understanding of animal body-plan evolution and shed light on the bilaterian ground pattern. Traditionally, Annelida has been split into two major groups: Clitellata (earthworms and leeches) and polychaetes (bristle worms), but recent evidence suggests that other taxa that were once considered to be separate phyla (Sipuncula, Echiura and Siboglinidae (also known as Pogonophora)) should be included in Annelida. However, the deep-level evolutionary relationships of Annelida are still poorly understood, and a robust reconstruction of annelid evolutionary history is needed. Here we show that phylogenomic analyses of 34 annelid taxa, using 47,953 amino acid positions, recovered a well-supported phylogeny with strong support for major splits. Our results recover chaetopterids, myzostomids and sipunculids in the basal part of the tree, although the position of Myzostomida remains uncertain owing to its long branch. The remaining taxa are split into two clades: Errantia (which includes the model annelid Platynereis), and Sedentaria (which includes Clitellata). Ancestral character trait reconstructions indicate that these clades show adaptation to either an errant or a sedentary lifestyle, with alteration of accompanying morphological traits such as peristaltic movement, parapodia and sensory perception. Finally, life history characters in Annelida seem to be phylogenetically informative.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center