Phylogeny of Vestimentifera (Siboglinidae, Annelida) inferred from morphology
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Vestimentifera, formerly considered a phylum, are here included in the annelid clade Siboglinidae which also encompasses Frenulata and Sclerolinum. All Siboglinidae inhabit reducing habitats, mostly in the deep sea. Vestimentifera are known from hydrothermal vents and cold seeps. Cladistic analyses of vestimentiferan relationships are performed on three levels: (1) among the vestimentiferan species, (2) among the reconstructed ancestral vestimentiferan and other siboglinids and (3) on the level of the families included in the annelidan clade Sabellida. The monophyly of vestimentiferans is confirmed in all analyses. A group of exclusively vent-inhabiting species forms a derived monophyletic clade. The sister group to the vent clade is the Escarpia complex. Lamellibrachia appears to be paraphyletic. Except for the paraphyly of Lamellibrachia, the reconstructed pattern agrees with the molecular phylogeny based on cytochrome c oxidase subunit I. Ancient ridge systems can be invoked to explain modern day geographical distributions. The Pacific Kula Ridge that spanned the Pacific in an east-west direction during the Early Tertiary, may have been a pathway for the ancestor of the vent clade to reach the eastern Pacific. The biogeography is consistent with the recent divergence of Vestimentifera as inferred from molecular data. The reconstructed phylogeny of the Siboglinidae supports the monophyly of the Frenulata and within those, the Thecanephria and Athecanephria. In contrast to molecular and other morphological analyses, Sclerolinum appears as the sister group to the Frenulata. The family level analysis supports the sister group relationship of the Siboglinidae to a clade formed by Sabellariidae, Sabellidae and Serpulidae. Hypothesized homologies of the vestimentiferan obturaculum and vestimentum to structures in related taxa need further investigation.
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