Multi-locus phylogenetic analysis of the genus Limnodrilus (Annelida: Clitellata: Naididae)


Limnodrilus species are annelid worms distributed worldwide in various freshwater sediments. The systematics of Limnodrilus has chiefly been based on morphology, but the genus has not been subject to any closer phylogenetic studies over the past two decades. To reconstruct the evolutionary history of Limnodrilus, and to assess the monophyly of this genus and its systematic position within the subfamily Tubificinae (Annelida: Clitellata: Naididae), 45 Limnodrilus specimens, representing 19 species, and 35 other naidid species (representing 24 genera) were sampled. The data consisted of sequences of three mitochondrial genes (COI, 12S and 16S rDNA) and four nuclear markers (18S and 28S rDNA, Histone 3, and ITS). The phylogeny was estimated, using Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian analyses of concatenated data of seven DNA loci, as well as a multi-locus coalescent-based approach. All analyses strongly suggest that Limnodrilus is monophyletic, but only if the morphospecies L. rubripenis is removed from it. Limnodrilus rubripenis and (at least) Baltidrilus, Lophochaeta and some species attributed to Varichaetadrilus comprise the sister group to the clade Limnodrilus sensu stricto, and the latter is further divided into three well-supported groups. One of them contains morphospecies characterized by short cuticular penis sheaths and enlarged chaetae in anterior segments (L. udekemianus, L. silvani and L. grandisetosus). The second is a small group of species with moderately long penis sheaths, i.e., L. sulphurensis and L. profundicola. The third, and largest group, includes not only the multitude of cryptic species in the L. hoffmeisteri complex, but also other, morphologically distinct, species nested within this complex. All studied species in this large group have long penis sheaths, which are exceptionally long in L. claparedianus, L. maumeensis, and a form morphologically intermediate between L. claparedianus and L. cervix. The identification and classification of these groups provide a framework for directed sampling in further phylogenetic studies, and for revisionary work on the L. hoffmeisteri complex and other unresolved Limnodrilus species.

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 112: 244-257