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Hidden diversity and deep divergence in a presumed broadly distributed polychaete along the Atlantic coast of Americas


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Hidden diversity and deep divergence in a presumed broadly distributed polychaete along the Atlantic coast of Americas

Bruno R Sampieri1,2,3*, Pedro E Vieira2,3, Marcos AL Teixeira2,3, Antônia Cecília Z Amaral1, Filipe O Costa2,3


1 Museu de Zoologia “Adão José Cardoso”, Universidade Estadual de Campinas - UNICAMP, Campinas-SP, Brazil

2 CBMA, Centre of Molecular and Environmental Biology, Departamento de Biologia, Universidade do Minho, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal

3 Institute of Science and Innovation for Bio-sustainability (IB-S), Universidade do Minho, Portugal


*Corresponding author: [email protected]

§DNA barcode-based studies on the diversity of Polychaete species occurring in Brazilian coast have received little to no attention.
§This approach have been increasingly revealing hidden diversity in polychaete taxa, including cryptic and pseudocryptic species1.
§Laeonereis culveri (Nereididae) represents a case of taxonomic ambiguity, which is assumed as a single species occurring all along the Atlantic Coast of the Americas since 19712 .

It is widely used in ecotoxicological and environmental quality studies in several countries, such as Brazil and Argentina

§A total of 72 original DNA barcodes from distinct populations were obtained through published protocols3, together with other 4 published sequences retrieved from BOLD and GenBank.
§Sampling Area: Atlantic coast of the Americas (Fig.1).
§Bayesian inference phenogram with best fit model (Fig.2).
§Four different MOTU clustering algorithms applied: BIN, ABGD, bPTP, GYMC to form a consensus MOTU.
§Mean inter-MOTU distances were calculated using Kimura 2-parameter distance (K2P) in MEGA software.
§The supposed single morphospecies split up in six different MOTUs with high genetic divergence.
§The mean global distance between MOTUs was 16.9%, while the maximum distance was 28.7%.
§Both Bayesian inference phenogram and haplotype network segregated the morphospecies in six MOTUs.
§In North and Southeast regions of Brazilian coast, two different MOTUs co-exist in the same area (North: MOTUs 4 and 5; Southeast: MOTUs 1 and 2).

Fig1. Map of North, Central and South Americas exibiting sampling locality and MOTUs distribution.

Fig2. Bayesian inference phenogram with General Time Reversible model with invariable sites (GTR+I), displaying 76 COI sequences of Laeonereis culveri from 10 different populations/localities. Bracket color correspond to different MOTUs, as represented in figure 1.

Fig3. Reduced median network based on COI data. The number of haplotypes is indicated in each circle. Number of mutations separating each haplotype and inferred ancestors (median vectors) are displayed within the branches.

§Results strongly suggest that L. culveri is a complex of cryptic or pseudocryptic species.
§Surveys addressing environmental monitoring and quality, as well as ecotoxicology research involving L. culveri complex, must consider if distinct MOTUs exhibit different responses and sensitivity to anthropic stress and pollution,
§DNA-based identification of the distinct MOTUs is therefore essential for future studies with this complex4.
§Until its taxonomic status is completely clarified this complex should be referred to as Laeonereis culveri sensu lato.

1 Nygren A (2014) Cryptic polychaete diversity: a review. Zoologica Scripta, 43, 172–183. DOI: 10.1111/zsc.12044;

2 Pettibone, M. H. (1971). Revision of some species referred to Leptonereis, Nicon, and Laeonereis (Polychaeta: Nereididae). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, 104, 1–53.

3Lobo J et al. (2016) Starting a DNA barcode reference library for shallow water polychaetes from the southern European Atlantic coast. Molecular Ecology Resources 16, 298-313. DOI: 10.1111/1755-0998.12441;

  3 Hutchings P & Kupriyanova E (2018) Cosmopolitan polychaetes – fact or fiction? Personal and historical perspectives. Invertebrate Systematics, 32, 1–9. DOI: 10.1071/IS17035.

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