Organisms Diversity & Evolution

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 291–312 | Cite as

Two new bioluminescent Henlea from Siberia and lack of molecular support for Hepatogaster (Annelida, Clitellata, Enchytraeidae)

  • Emilia RotaEmail author
  • Svante Martinsson
  • Christer Erséus
Original Article


Two bioluminescent enchytraeids, Henlea petushkovi sp. n. and Henlea rodionovae sp. n., are described from the Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk regions in Eastern Siberia. These large potworms exhibit the typical light-production pattern reported repeatedly in the genus and recently elucidated by Russian researchers in its main biophysical and biochemical aspects. Morphology and DNA indicate that the two species are very closely related, but clearly divergent in the strength of the body wall (thick and opaque in H. petushkovi), structure of the prostomium (in H. rodionovae unprecedentedly wrinkled and mobile), brain shape (almost equilateral in H. petushkovi), size of coelomocytes (60–85 μm in H. petushkovi) and structure of intestinal diverticula (tulip-shaped in H. petushkovi, apple-shaped in H. rodionovae). Limited hybridization seems to occur between them, supported by a single case of conflict between COI and morphology, and a few intermediate morphotypes were noted in greenhouse populations. The new species are phylogenetically distant from all known congeners so far DNA-barcoded, even those that, like them, respond to the diagnosis of the putative subgenus Hepatogaster Čejka, 1910 (multitubular gut diverticula in VIII, indented brain, dorsal blood vessel from IX, prominent spermathecal glands, and nephridia from 5/6). In fact, our phylogenetic analyses dismiss Hepatogaster as an artificial (polyphyletic) taxon. Issues related to the definition of H. nasuta (Eisen, 1878), H. ochracea (Eisen, 1878) and H. irkutensis Burov, 1929, three species originally described from Siberia, indicate that Henlea taxonomy is still in a state of flux, as regards not only species interrelationships but also species definitions.


New species Henlea Taxonomy Cytochrome C oxidase subunit 1 Histone 3 Hybridization Phylogeny Hepatogaster Bioluminescence 



We are grateful to Valentin N. Petushkov and Natalja S. Rodionova (Institute of Biophysics, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Krasnoyarsk) for entrusting us with the study of this interesting material, to Daria Melnikova (Moscow State University) for forwarding the DNA sequences of the Gladkoye specimens, and to Anna Ansebo, Per Hjelmstedt and Mårten Klinth (University of Gothenburg) for skillful molecular lab assistance.

Funding information

This study received financial support from the Swedish Research Council to CE, and by the Adlerbert Research Foundation/Royal Society of Arts and Sciences in Gothenburg to both CE and SM.

Supplementary material

13127_2018_374_MOESM1_ESM.docx (28 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 25 kb)
13127_2018_374_MOESM2_ESM.docx (658 kb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 656 kb)


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© Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physics, Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of SienaSienaItaly
  2. 2.Systematics and Biodiversity, Department of Biological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of GothenburgGöteborgSweden

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