Marine Biology

, Volume 150, Issue 6, pp 1115–1126 | Cite as

Phylogeography of two species of Lysidice (Polychaeta, Eunicidae) associated to the seagrass Posidonia oceanica in the Mediterranean Sea

  • M. A. IannottaEmail author
  • F. P. Patti
  • M.  Ambrosino
  • G.  Procaccini
  • M. C. Gambi
Research Article


The aim of this work was to define the phylogeographic patterns of the two species of polychaete Eunicidae, Lysidice ninetta Audouin and Milne Edwards and Lysidice collaris Grube, both associated as sheath borers to the Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica, and with reference to their different origin and their actual geographic distribution. L. ninetta is distributed in the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean Sea while L. collaris is a tropical species, whose introduction into the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal (lessepsian migrant) has been hypothesized in recent years. The two species have been often confused in the past, although they appear morphologically distinct. They share the same microhabitat (Posidonia sheaths) and they co-exist along a broad bathymetric range (1–30 m). Several populations for both taxa were sampled all along the coast of the Mediterranean basin. A variable no coding region of nuclear DNA (rDNA, ITS1) and a portion of a more conservative coding region of mitochondrial DNA (sub-unit one of citochrome oxidase, COI) were used as molecular markers. Both markers confirmed the separation between the two species. Low intraspecific polymorphism was present in L. collaris, together with absence of phylogeographic structure. In L. ninetta, instead, the presence of intraspecific cryptic lineages, sympatric in some sites, was recorded. Clustering of single populations in the two main clades was not always consistent between markers. The mitochondrial COI region showed more resolution at the given spatial scale. Our results suggest that Lysidice collaris could be recently introduced into the Mediterranean Sea from one or more separate events. On the other hand, for L. ninetta one could presume a re-colonization of the Mediterranean basin from the Atlantics, after the Messinian crisis (dry-out of the Mediterranean Sea, 5.5 my) with the subsequent separation of intraspecific lineages. The phylogeographic patterns of both Lysidice spp. are disjoined with respect to that of the host plant, P. oceanica. The obtained results suggest that environmental constraints and evolutionary history of these polychaetes and their host plant act in different ways to determine their actual genetic spatial structure.


Polychaete Mediterranean Basin Messinian ITS1 Region Suez Canal 
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.



We wish to thank the colleagues who provided samples of Posidonia oceanica shoots for collection of polychaete borers in some of the studied sites: Melih Ertan Cinar (Ege-University, Izmir, Turkey), Marco Dappiano, Antonello Flores (University of Sassari, Italy), Maria Ghelia and Guido Picchetti (Pantelleria Diving Center), Miguel-Angel Mateo (University of Barcelona, Catalonia), Giovanni Micaletto, Luigi Piazzi (University of Pisa, Italy), Stefano Piraino (University of Lecce, Italy), Josè-Louis Sanchez-Lisazo (University of Alicante, Spain). M. Cigliano helped in seagrass shoot processing for polychaete borer’s sampling. We thank J.L. Olsen for the critical reading of the first version of the manuscript. We also thank Elvira Mauriello and Raimondo Pannone of the Molecular Biology Service of the Stazione Zoologica for technical support during sequence analyses. The experiments performed in the present paper comply with the current Italian laws.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. A. Iannotta
    • 1
    Email author
  • F. P. Patti
    • 1
  • M.  Ambrosino
    • 1
  • G.  Procaccini
    • 1
  • M. C. Gambi
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratorio di Ecologia del BenthosStazione Zoologica “A. Dohrn”NaplesItaly

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