Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Peanut worms are annelids

03.03.2011
The phylum Annelida has just gained a new member / Peanut worm is no longer recognized as separate group

Recent molecular phylogenetic analysis has shown that the marine animals known as peanut worms are not a separate phylum, but are definitely part of the family of annelids, also known as segmented worms. This is a classification that seemed questionable in the past in view of the fact that peanut worms – or the Sipunculidae, to give them their scientific name – have neither segments nor bristles.


Sipunculus nudus of the group of Sipunculidae with a length of about 8 centimeters. photo/©: Dr Anja Schulze, Texas A&M University at Galveston, USA

The latter are considered typical characteristics of annelids, which include more than 16,500 identified species and to which our common earthworm belongs. "Our molecular data clearly demonstrates that there is no doubt anymore that the Sipunculidae should be classified as members of these segmented worms," explains Dr Bernhard Lieb of the Institute of Zoology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). The results were obtained as part of a broad study in which the phylogenetic development and relationships within the phylum Annelida were analyzed in terms of basic molecular biology to be then re-evaluated. Participating in the project are the universities of Osnabrück, Potsdam, Mainz, and Leipzig, together with the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Genetics in Berlin. The results have now been published online in the journal Nature.

"The relationships between the various annelids with regard to both morphological and molecular biological aspects have been a matter of dispute," states Lieb. Segmented worms are the most prevalent of marine macrofauna – their habitat ranges from tidal zones to the deep oceans. Usually, they have been divided into two main classes: the Clitellata, which have few bristles, e.g. earthworms, and leeches on the one hand and the Polychaeta, literally the 'many bristled', on the other hand. The evolutionary and deep branching patterns of annelid lineage are still the subject of on-going scientific debate, although it has become increasingly clear that other groups that had previously been classified separately, such as peanut worms and beard worms, are actually members of this phylum. By means of identifying some 48,000 amino acid positions in 34 different representatives of the phylum Annelida, the research group headed by the universities of Osnabrück and Potsdam has put together the hitherto most detailed database for the family of segmented worms. This has enabled the group to re-evaluate and reconstruct the phylogenetic interrelationships and evolution of this extensive and highly diverse group of animals.

The molecular data on Sipunculus nudus – the peanut worm – gathered by the team in Mainz led by Bernhard Lieb shows that the genetic characteristics of the worm, which lives in sand and silt at the bottom of the sea, clearly indicates that it is a member of the annelid family. In evolutionary terms the peanut worm is likely to be a basal group that diverged very early during evolution. It is conjectured on the basis of the sparse fossil record that the annelids first appeared in the Cambrian Period, roughly 550-490 million years ago. "We assume that segmentation was a very early characteristic of the annelids and that the peanut worm has lost its segmentation during the course of evolution," clarifies Lieb.

Primarily, new DNA sequencing technologies, so-called next-generation sequencing (NGS), made such comprehensive genetic investigations become possible. The Illumina Hiseq2000 sequencer recently acquired by the Institute of Genetics at JGU can analyze vast amounts of data, and sequence up to 200 gigabases of DNA per run within a single week. This means that whole genomes can be sequenced in a relatively short time, opening up completely new avenues for wide-ranging research.

Petra Giegerich | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-mainz.de/eng/14040.php
http://www.staff.uni-mainz.de/lieb/

Further reports about: Annelida DNA Genetics Peanut Sipunculidae deep ocean molecular data segmented worms

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement
26.06.2017 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

nachricht New insight into a central biological dogma on ion transport
26.06.2017 | Aarhus University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>