Marine Biology

, Volume 150, Issue 3, pp 345–358 | Cite as

Molecular relationships and species divergence among Phragmatopoma spp. (Polychaeta: Sabellaridae) in the Americas

  • Carrie A. DrakeEmail author
  • Daniel A. McCarthy
  • Carol D. von Dohlen
Research Article


Phragmatopoma spp. are marine, reef-building polychaetes that inhabit the intertidal and shallow subtidal zones of both coasts of the Americas. Phragmatopoma californica is found in the Pacific Ocean along the California coast south to Mexico, while Phragmatopoma caudata inhabits the Caribbean islands and Atlantic Ocean from the Florida coast south to Brazil. Although apparently geographically isolated, P. californica and P. caudata have been found to interbreed (Pawlik 1988a) and thus their specific taxonomic relationship has been unclear. In this study, two genes, cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) and the first internal transcribed spacer region (ITS-1), were sequenced to assess the specific status of P. californica and P. caudata as well as Phragmatopoma virgini. Comparison of sequences revealed that samples of P. californica shared no COI haplotypes or ITS-1 sequences with P. caudata. Phylogenetic analyses, including maximum parsimony and Bayesian methods, clustered each species in separate, well-supported clades with genetic distances between them being greater than between either contested species or the uncontested, valid species, P. virgini. Thus, the molecular data support that P. californica and P. caudata are separate species. However, the sample of individuals of P. virgini included one genetically divergent individual, whose morphology was found to match that of a species formerly recognized as P. moerchi but since synonymized with P. virgini. Divergences among lineages were dated using the COI sequences, after adjustment for non-clock-like behavior. Consequently, we suggest that P. virgini and P. caudata are sister taxons and that P. californica diverged from the P. virgini/P. caudata clade ∼5.7 mya with P. virgini diverging from P. caudata ∼3 mya.


Concerted Evolution Internal Transcribe Space Region Shallow Subtidal Zone Southern Pacific Ocean rDNA Cistron 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to especially thank Melissa Wilson, Victor Gallardo, Rachel Collin, and John Pearse for collecting the majority of the worms. We would also like to thank Joe Pawlik for the research idea for this project. We would also like to thank Erik Pilgrim for assistance with manuscript preparation. Experiments comply with the current laws of the United States. This is FTPSMS contribution number 644.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carrie A. Drake
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel A. McCarthy
    • 2
  • Carol D. von Dohlen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biology and Marine ScienceJacksonville UniversityJacksonvilleUSA

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