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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2012 Aug;64(2):368-79. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2012.04.011. Epub 2012 Apr 21.

Adding complexity to the complex: new insights into the phylogeny, diversification and origin of parthenogenesis in the Aporrectodea caliginosa species complex (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae).

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Departamento de Zoología y Antropología Física, Facultad de Biología, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Calle José Antonio Novais 2, 28040 Madrid, Spain.


The importance of the Aporrectodea caliginosa species complex lies in the great abundance and wide distribution of the species which exist within it. For more than a century, chaos has surrounded this complex; morphological criteria has failed to solve the taxonomic status of these species. This present body of work aims to study the phylogeny of this complex by increasing the number of samples used in previous molecular works and by including morphologically-similar species that were never studied using molecular tools (A. giardi, Nicodrilus monticola, N. carochensis and N. tetramammalis). Two basal clades were obtained: one formed by A. caliginosa and A. tuberculata and the other by the rest of the species. This second clade was divided into two more: one with Eurosiberian and another with Mediterranean forms. A. caliginosa and A. longa were divided into two paraphyletic groups. Both A. giardi and A. nocturna showed characteristics consistent with monophyletic groups. Each of the two recovered lineages of A. trapezoides were phylogenetically related to different sexual species. While lineage I of A. trapezoides was monophyletic, lineage II resulted to be paraphyletic, as well as the three Nicodrilus 'species'. The diversification of the complex occurred during the Late Miocene-Early Pliocene (6.92-11.09 Mya). The parthenogenetic forms within the Mediterranean clade would have diversified before the ones in the Eurosiberian clade (3.13-4.64 Mya and 1.05-3.48 Mya, respectively), thus implying the existence not only of at least two different moments in which parthenogenesis arose within this complex of species, but also of two different and independent evolutionary lines. Neither the 4× rule nor the GMYC method for species delimitation were successful for distinguishing taxonomically-distinct species.

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