Publications

2017
Schwentner, M., D.J. Combosch, J. P. Nelson, and G. Giribet. 2017. “A phylogenomic solution to the origin of insects by resolving crustacean-hexapod relationships.” Current Biology 27: 1818-1824. Abstract
Insects, the most diverse group of organisms, are nested within crustaceans, arguably the most abundant group of marine animals. However, to date, no consensus has been reached as to which crustacean taxon is the closest relative of hexapods. A majority of studies have proposed that Branchiopoda (e.g., fairy shrimps) is the sister group of Hexapoda [1-7]. However, these investigations largely excluded two equally important taxa, Remipedia and Cephalocarida. Other studies suggested Remipedia [8-11] or Remipedia + Cephalocarida [12, 13] as potential sister groups of hexapods, but they either did not include Cephalocarida or used only Sanger sequence data and morphology [9, 12]. Here we present the first phylogenomic study specifically addressing the origins of hexapods, including transcriptomes for two species each of Cephalocarida and Remipedia. Phylogenetic analyses of selected matrices, ranging from 81 to 1,675 orthogroups and up to 510,982 amino acid positions, clearly reject a sister-group relationship between Hexapoda and Branchiopoda [1-7]. Nonetheless, support for a hexapod sister-group relationship to Remipedia or to Cephalocarida-Remipedia was highly dependent on the employed analytical methodology. Further analyses assessing the effects of gene evolutionary rate and targeted taxon exclusion support Remipedia as the sole sister taxon of Hexapoda and suggest that the prior grouping of Remipedia + Cephalocarida is an artifact, possibly due to long branch attraction and compositional heterogeneity. We further conclude that terrestrialization of Hexapoda probably occurred in the late Cambrian to early Ordovician, an estimate that is independent of their proposed sister group [4, 8, 12, 14].
Bdelloura candida (Platyhelminthes, Tricladida, Maricola) is an ectocommensal symbiont on the American horseshoe crab Limulus polyphemus, living on the book gills and appendages, where it spends its entire life. Given its limited dispersal capabilities and its inability to live outside of the host, we hypothesized a genetic structure that parallels that of its host. We obtained 84 planarian individuals from 19 horseshoe crabs collected from 10 sites from Massachusetts to Florida. We amplified the mitochondrial 16S rRNA and the nuclear internal transcribed spacer 2 and conducted phylogeographic and population genetic analyses, which show a clear and strong genetic break between the populations in the Atlantic and the Gulf coasts. Among the Atlantic populations, two additional, weaker barriers located along Cape Hatteras and Cape Cod restrict gene flow. Even though previous studies have suggested that the populations of the host may be in decline, those of B. candida remain stable, and some even shows signatures of expansion. Our results indicate that the phylogeography of these marine ectocommensal triclads closely mirrors that of its Limulus host, and highlight the challenges to both host and symbiont to genetically connect populations across their distribution.
The existence of the platyhelminth clade Adiaphanida—an assemblage comprising the well‐studied order Tricladida as well as two lesser known taxa, Prolecithophora and the obligate parasitic Fecampiida—is among the more surprising results of flatworm molecular systematics. Each of these three clades is itself largely well‐defined from a morphological point of view, although Adiaphanida at large, despite its strong support in molecular phylogenetic analyses, lacks known morphological synapomorphies. However, one taxon, the genus Genostoma, a parasite of the leptostracan crustacean Nebalia, rests uneasily within its current classification within the fecampiid family Genostomatidae; ultrastructural investigations on this taxon have uncovered a spermatogenesis reminiscent of Kalyptorhynchia, and a dorsal syncytium resembling the neodermatan tegument. Here, we provide molecular sequence data (nearly complete 18S and 28S rRNA) from a representative of Genostoma, with which we test hypotheses on the phylogenetic position of this taxon within Platyhelminthes, expanding upon a recently published phylum‐wide analysis, and applying novel alignment algorithms and substitution models. These analyses unequivocally position Genostoma as the sister group of Prolecithophora. However, even in taxon‐rich analyses, support for the position of the root of Adiaphanida is lacking, highlighting the need for new data types to study the phylogeny of this clade. Interestingly, our analyses also do not recover the monophyly of several taxa previously proposed, notably Continenticola within Tricladida and Protomonotresidae within Prolecithophora. In light of this phylogeny and the distinctive morphology (especially, spermatogenesis) of Genostoma, we advocate for a redefinition of the family Genostomatidae, outside of both Fecampiida and Prolecithophora, to encompass the members of this unique genus of parasites. Within Fecampiida, the family Piscinquilinidae fam. nov. is erected to accommodate the vertebrate‐parasitic Piscinquilinus, formerly Genostomatidae.
Healy, J. M., P. M. Mikkelsen, G. Giribet, and R. Bieler. 2017. “Sperm ultrastructure of the Protobranchia: comparison with other bivalve mollusks and potential taxonomic and phylogenetic significance. .” Fieldiana Zoology 11: 1-28. Abstract
Sperm ultrastructure of nine species of protobranch bivalves, representing three of four extant orders (Solemyida, Nuculida, Nuculanida), is discussed. Greatest diversity occurs in Solemyida (acrosomal vesicle low-conical, tall-conical, or very elongate, with radial plates; nucleus rod-shaped, teardrop-shaped, or very elongate; four, five, or six mitochondria) and the least in Nuculida (acrosomal vesicle low- to tall-conical; lacking radial plates; nucleus rod-shaped, five or six mitochondria) followed by Nuculanida (short, conical acrosomal vesicle with radial plates; spheroidal nucleus; four or five mitochondria). The wide variety of shapes in Solemyidae suggests taxonomic potential, especially in resolution and/or recognition of supraspecific taxa, but no diagnostic family characters were identified. Taxonomic potential exists for Nuculida (acrosomal shape) and Nuculanida (mitochondrial number). Protobranch sperm is highly diverse, and no defining character of the whole group was found. Support was found for the Nuculida and Nuculanida as natural groups but not for their close relationship. Nuculanida and Solemyida exhibit radial plates in the acrosomal vesicle but otherwise share no derived characters. The striking similarity of most sperm features of Nuculanida with certain pteriomorphians, especially Pectinoidea, a relationship also suggested by some mitochondrial DNA sequence data, poses interesting questions concerning their relationships and/or shared functional constraints.
Harvey, M. S., M. G. Rix, D. Harms, G. Giribet, C. J. Vink, and D. E. Walter. 2017. “ The biogeography of Australasian arachnids. .” Ebach, M. C. (Ed.) Handbook of Australasian Biogeography. CRC/Taylor and Francis Group, 241-267.
Giribet, G., and Gregory D. Edgecombe. 2017. “Current understanding of Ecdysozoa and its internal phylogenetic relationships. .” Integrative and Comparative Biology 57: 455-466.
Sironidae, the first described family of Cyphophthalmi, is among the least understood phylogenetically. After examining recent collections across their distribution range, we provide the first comprehensive treatment of Sironidae by including molecular data from most of the known species, and all genera except for the monotypic Odontosiro Juberthie, 1961. We also revisit the male genitalic morphology for most genera by using confocal laser scanning microscopy and provide descriptions of five new species belonging to Iberosiro de Bivort & Giribet, 2004 (monotypic until now), Paramiopsalis Juberthie, 1962 and Siro Latreille, 1802. While the monophyly of Sironidae remains poorly supported using traditional Sanger-based markers, with the Mediterranean Parasiro Hansen & Sørensen, 1904 and the Japanese Suzukielus Juberthie, 1970b sometimes branching basally with respect to the other sironids, the remaining genera form a well-supported Laurentian/Laurasian clade. This group divides into a Western European/North American clade of Siro and the remaining genera, Iberosiro, Paramiopsalis and Cyphophthalmus Joseph, 1868. Iberosiro and Paramiopsalis form a well-supported clade from the NW corner of the Iberian Peninsula, while Cyphophthalmus is widespread in the Balkan region and Eastern Mediterranean. Finally, the following new taxa are described: Iberosiro rosae Giribet, Merino-Sáinz & Benavides, sp. nov., Paramiopsalis anadonae Giribet, Merino-Sáinz & Benavides, sp. nov., Paramiopsalis ramblae Benavides & Giribet, sp. nov., Siro ligiae Giribet, sp. nov., and Siro richarti Benavides & Giribet, sp. nov.
Gilbert, P.U.P.A., K. D. Bergmann, C. E. Myers, M. A. Marcus, R. T. DeVol, C.-Y. Sun, A. Z. Blonsky, J. Zhao, E. A. Karan, and E. Tamre. 2017. “ Nacre tablet thickness records formation temperature in modern and fossil shells. .” Earth and Planetary Science Letters 460: 281-292. Abstract
© 2016 Elsevier B.V. Nacre, the iridescent outer lining of pearls and inner lining of many mollusk shells, is composed of periodic, parallel, organic sheets alternating with aragonite (CaCO 3 ) tablet layers. Nacre tablet thickness (TT) generates both nacre's iridescence and its remarkable resistance to fracture. Despite extensive studies on how nacre forms, the mechanisms controlling TT remain unknown, even though they determine the most conspicuous of nacre's characteristics, visible even to the naked eye. Thermodynamics predicts that temperature (T) will affect both physical and chemical components of biomineralized skeletons. The chemical composition of biominerals is well-established to record environmental parameters, and has therefore been extensively used in paleoclimate studies. The physical structure, however, has been hypothesized but never directly demonstrated to depend on the environment. Here we observe that the physical TT in nacre from modern and fossil shallow-water shells of the bivalves Pinna and Atrina correlates with T as measured by the carbonate clumped isotope thermometer. Based on the observed TT vs. T correlation, we anticipate that TT will be used as a paleothermometer, useful to estimate paleotemperature in shallow-water paleoenvironments. Here we successfully test the proposed new nacre TT thermometer on two Jurassic Pinna shells. The increase of TT with T is consistent with greater aragonite growth rate at higher T, and with greater metabolic rate at higher T. Thus, it reveals a complex, T-dependent biophysical mechanism for nacre formation.
Gainett, G., P. Michalik, C. H. G. Müller, G. Giribet, G Talarico, and R. H. Willemart. 2017. “Putative thermo-/hygroreceptive tarsal sensilla on the sensory legs of an armored harvestman (Arachnida, Opiliones).” Zoologischer Anzeiger 270: 81-97. Abstract
Most harvestman species are dependent on high humidity levels and amenable temperatures for homeostasis. While they are known to actively choose environments with these conditions, no thermo-/hygroreceptor has yet been identified in harvestmen. Using electron microscopy, we investigated the ultrastructure of two types of hair sensilla of the armored harvestman Heteromitobates discolor (Laniatores, Gonyleptidae): namely the sensillum basiconicum and the hooded sensillum. Both structures occur in small numbers (sensilla basiconica: 28 units; hooded sensilla: 4 units) and are distributed on the distal parts of the legs. On the distalmost tarsomeres I and II, the receptor cells of paired sensilla basiconica and single hooded sensillum form a common axon bundle proceeding towards the tarsal nerve. The sensillum basiconicum is innervated by 3-4 dendrites and has a longitudinal slit giving the impression of a shaft with two flaps, resembling a beak. The slit probably allows for evaporation of sensillum lymph. The hooded sensillum is innervated by two bundles of three dendrites each, has two pore-like structures on its tip and displays an unusual reticulate cuticle of the shaft. Details of shaft cuticle, the evidence of evaporation of sensillum lymph, and specific innervation patterns support our hypothesis that sensilla basiconica are thermo- and/or hygroreceptors. Even though the definite function of hooded sensilla remains unclear, its putative receptor modalities are assessed by means of specific ultrastructures. Moreover, we discuss with regard to functional ultrastructures as to whether the evaporation system of sensilla basiconica fits mechanisms of hygroreception as known from current literature. Finally, we discuss potentials and purpose given by spatial coherence of both types of sensilla at the tip of the sensory appendages.
Putative thermo-/hygroreceptive tarsal... (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320319517_Putative_thermo-hygroreceptive_tarsal_sensilla_on_the_sensory_legs_of_an_armored_harvestman_Arachnida_Opiliones [accessed Apr 24 2018].
Gainett, G., Michalik, P., C. H. G. Müller, G. Giribet, G. Talarico, and R. H. Willemart. 2017. “Ultrastructure of chemoreceptive tarsal sensilla in an armored harvestman and evidence of olfaction across Laniatores (Arachnida, Opiliones.).” Arthropod Structure & Development 46: 178-195. Abstract
Harvestmen (Arachnida, Opiliones) are especially dependent on chemical cues and are often regarded as animals that rely mainly on contact chemoreception. Information on harvestman sensilla is scarce when compared to other arachnid orders, especially concerning internal morphology. Using scanning (SEM) and transmission (TEM) electron microscopy, we investigated tarsal sensilla on the distal tarsomeres (DT) of all leg pairs in Heteromitobates discolor (Laniatores, Gonyleptidae). Furthermore, we explored the typological diversity of sensilla present on the DT I and II in members of the suborder Laniatores, which include two thirds of the formally described opilionid fauna, using species from 17 families representing all main laniatorian lineages. Our data revealed that DT I and II of H. discolor are equipped with wall-pored falciform hairs (two types), wall-pored sensilla chaetica (two types) and tip-pored sensilla chaetica, while DT III and IV are mainly covered with trichomes (non-sensory) and tip-pored sensilla chaetica. The ultrastructural characteristics support an olfactory function for all wall-pored sensilla and a dual gustatory/mechanoreceptive function for tip-pored sensilla chaetica. Based on our comparative SEM survey, we show that wall-pored sensilla occur in all investigated Laniatores, demonstrating their widespread occurrence in the suborder and highlighting the importance of both legs I and II as the sensory appendages of laniatorean harvestmen. Our results provide the first morphological evidence for olfactory receptors in Laniatores and suggest that olfaction is more important for harvestmen than previously thought.
Fernández, R., P. P. Sharma, A. L. Tourinho, and G. Giribet. 2017. “The Opiliones tree of life: Shedding light on harvestmen relationships through transcriptomics. .” Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 284: 20162340. Abstract
Opiliones are iconic arachnids with a Palaeozoic origin and a diversity that reflects ancient biogeographic patterns dating back at least to the times of Pangea. Owing to interest in harvestman diversity, evolution and biogeography, their relationships have been thoroughly studied using morphology and PCR-based Sanger approaches to infer their systematic relationships. More recently, two studies utilized transcriptomics-based phylogenomics to explore their basal relationships and diversification, but sampling was limiting for understanding deep evolutionary patterns, as they lacked good taxon representation at the family level. Here, we analysed a set of the 14 existing transcriptomes with 40 additional ones generated for this study, representing approximately 80% of the extant familial diversity in Opiliones. Our phylogenetic analyses, including a set of data matrices with different gene occupancy and evolutionary rates, and using a multitude of methods correcting for a diversity of factors affecting phylogenomic data matrices, provide a robust and stable Opiliones tree of life, where most families and higher taxa are precisely placed. Our dating analyses using alternative calibration points, methods and analytical parameters provide well-resolved old divergences, consistent with ancient regionalization in Pangea in some groups, and Pangean vicariance in others. The integration of state-of-the-art molecular techniques and analyses, together with the broadest taxonomic sampling to date presented in a phylogenomic study of harvestmen, provide new insights into harvestmen interrelationships, as well as an overview of the general biogeographic patterns of this ancient arthropod group.
We test the limits of the spider superfamily Araneoidea and reconstruct its interfamilial relationships using standard molecular markers. The taxon sample (363 terminals) comprises for the first time representatives of all araneoid families, including the first molecular data of the family Synaphridae. We use the resulting phylogenetic framework to study web evolution in araneoids. Araneoidea is monophyletic and sister to Nicodamoidea rank. n. Orbiculariae are not monophyletic and also include the RTA clade, Oecobiidae and Hersiliidae. Deinopoidea is paraphyletic with respect to a lineage that includes the RTA clade, Hersiliidae and Oecobiidae. The cribellate orb‐weaving family Uloboridae is monophyletic and is sister group to a lineage that includes the RTA Clade, Hersiliidae and Oecobiidae. The monophyly of most Araneoidea families is well supported, with a few exceptions. Anapidae includes holarchaeids but the family remains diphyletic even if Holarchaea is considered an anapid. The orb‐web is ancient, having evolved by the early Jurassic; a single origin of the orb with multiple “losses” is implied by our analyses. By the late Jurassic, the orb‐web had already been transformed into different architectures, but the ancestors of the RTA clade probably built orb‐webs. We also find further support for a single origin of the cribellum and multiple independent losses. The following taxonomic and nomenclatural changes are proposed: the cribellate and ecribellate nicodamids are grouped in the superfamily Nicodamoidea rank n. (Megadictynidae rank res. and Nicodamidae stat. n.). Araneoidea includes 17 families with the following changes: Araneidae is re‐circumscribed to include nephilines, Nephilinae rank res., Arkyidae rank n., Physoglenidae rank n., Synotaxidae is limited to the genus Synotaxus, Pararchaeidae is a junior synonym of Malkaridae (syn. n.), Holarchaeidae of Anapidae (syn. n.) and Sinopimoidae of Linyphiidae (syn. n.).
De Sosa, I., D. Fernández-Marchán, Novo, M., D. J. Díaz Cosín, G. Giribet, and R. Fernández. 2017. “Insights into the origin of parthenogenesis in oligochaetes: strong genetic structure in a cosmopolitan earthworm is not related to reproductive mode. .” European Journal of Soil Biology 81: 31-38.
Combosch, D. J, Lemer, S., Ward, P. D., Landman, N. H., and G. Giribet. 2017. “Genomic signatures of evolution in Nautilus—an endangered living fossil.” Molecular Ecology 26: 5923-5938. Abstract
Living fossils are survivors of previously more diverse lineages that originated millions of years ago and persisted with little morphological change. Therefore, living fossils are model organisms to study both long-term and ongoing adaptation and speciation processes. However, many aspects of living fossil evolution and their persistence in the modern world remain unclear. Here, we investigate three major aspects of the evolutionary history of living fossils: cryptic speciation, population genetics and effective population sizes, using members of the genera Nautilus and Allonautilus as classic examples of true living fossils. For this, we analysed genomewide ddRAD-Seq data for all six currently recognized nautiloid species throughout their distribution range. Our analyses identified three major allopatric Nautilus clades: a South Pacific clade, subdivided into three subclades with no signs of admixture between them; a Coral Sea clade, consisting of two genetically distinct populations with significant admixture; and a widespread Indo-Pacific clade, devoid of significant genetic substructure. Within these major clades, we detected five Nautilus groups, which likely correspond to five distinct species. With the exception of Nautilus macromphalus, all previously described species are at odds with genomewide data, testifying to the prevalence of cryptic species among living fossils. Detailed FST analyses further revealed significant genome-wide and locus-specific signatures of selection between species and differentiated populations, which is demonstrated here for the first time in a living fossil. Finally, approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) simulations suggest large effective population sizes, which may explain the low levels of population differentiation commonly observed in living fossils.
Combosch, D.J., T. M. Collins, E. A. Glover, D. L. Graf, E. M. Harper, J. M. Healy, G. Y. Kawauchi, S. Lemer, E McIntyre, and E. E. Strong. 2017. “A family-level Tree of Life for bivalves based on a Sanger-sequencing approach. .” Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 107: 191-208.
Clouse, R. M, M. G. Branstetter, P. A. C. Buenavente, L. M. Crowley, J. Czekanski-Moir, D. E. M. General, G. Giribet, M. S Harvey, D. A. Janies, and A. B Mohagan. 2017. “First global molecular phylogeny and biogeographical analysis of two arachnid orders (Schizomida and Uropygi) supports a tropical Pangean origin and mid-Cretaceous diversification.” Journal of Biogeography 44: 2660-2672.
We investigate the phylogeny of “pirate spiders” (Mimetidae), a family of araneophagic spiders known for their use of aggressive mimicry as a foraging strategy, but poorly understood phylogenetically. Relationships are inferred by including molecular data from six loci for 92 mimetid terminals spanning four genera, and 119 outgroups representing 12 families. Phylogenetic analyses based on parsimony, maximum‐likelihood and Bayesian approaches, as well as static and dynamic homology, robustly support monophyly of Mimetidae and a sister‐group relationship to a clade comprising Tetragnathidae + Arkyidae. Relationships among the mimetid genera are largely congruent across methods, as follows: (Gelanor (Ero (Anansi n. gen. (Australomimetus, Mimetus)))). Diversification of Mimetidae is estimated to be around 114 Ma, in the Early Cretaceous. In light of the results of our phylogenetic analyses, we erect Anansi n. gen. to include a clade of mimetids from West Africa that contains at least four species, including the newly described A. luki n. sp. We present the first report of maternal care in Mimetidae based on novel field observations.
Álvarez-Campos, P, G Giribet, G San Martín, G. W. Rouse, and A Riesgo. 2017. “ Straightening the striped chaos: systematics and evolution of Trypanosyllis and the case of its pseudo-cryptic type species Trypanosyllis krohnii (Annelida, Syllidae). .” Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 179: 492-540. Abstract
All members of the syllid genus Trypanosyllis show distinctive flattened, ribbon-like bodies and a pharynx armed with a trepan; however, the phylogenetic relationships within this genus remain unsettled, especially with respect to the genera Eurysyllis and Xenosyllis (morphologically similar). To resolve this systematic uncertainty we analysed the phylogenetic relationships of a worldwide sampling of specimens of Trypanosyllis and three related genera using multiple molecular markers. We show that Trypanosyllis as presently construed is paraphyletic, and identify a clade of striped species that were previously all considered to be Trypanosyllis zebra (Grube, 1860). We outline the case to consider Trypanosyllis krohnii Claparede, 1864 as the type species of the genus, instead of Trypanosyllis zebra. Trypanosyllis krohnii (interpreted as Trypanosyllis zebra by recent authors) was previously believed to be cosmopolitan, but we show that it includes at least seven cryptic and pseudocryptic species, five of which are described herein: Trypanosyllis kalkin sp. nov., Trypanosyllis californiensis sp. nov., Trypanosyllis luquei sp. nov., Trypanosyllis leivai sp. nov., and Trypanosyllis taboadai sp. nov. In addition, Trypanedenta gemmipara (Johnson, 1901) comb. nov. and Trypanedenta gigantea (McIntosh, 1885) comb. nov., previously included in Trypanosyllis, are here transferred to Trypanedenta Imajima & Hartman, 1964, and Pseudosyllis brevipennis Grube, 1863 [previously named Trypanosyllis coeliaca (Claparede, 1868)] is transferred to the resurrected genus Pseudosyllis Grube, 1863. Overall our results show a complex scenario of speciation, with cases of pseudocryptic species that correspond to geographically restricted lineages. (C) 2017 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2017
Álvarez-Campos, P., G Giribet, and A Riesgo. 2017. “The Syllis gracilis species complex: a molecular approach to a difficult taxonomic problem (Annelida, Syllidae).” Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 109: 138-150. Abstract
Syllis gracilis is an emblematic member of the subfamily Syllinae (Syllidae, Annelida), which inhabits shallow, temperate coastal waters and can be found on algae, coral rubble, and sponges. Their distinctive ypsiloid chaetae, usually found in specimens from populations all around the world, led to the consideration of the species as cosmopolitan, even though four other species have similar chaetae: Syllis magellanica, S. picta, S. mayeri and S. ypsiloides. The discovery of deeply divergent lineages in the Mediterranean Sea, that were morphologically similar, questioned the cosmopolitanism of S. gracilis and suggested the possibility of it being a species complex. In order to assess the speciation patterns within the putative S. gracilis complex, we undertook species delimitation and phylogenetic analyses on 61 specimens morphologically ascribed to Syllis gracilis and closely related species using a multilocus molecular dataset (two mitochondrial and two nuclear markers). Our results suggest high levels of genetic differentiation between the S. gracilis populations analyzed, some of which have morphologically distinctive features. Five to eight distinct lineages (depending on the analysis) were identified, all with geographically restricted distributions. Although the presence of ypsiloid chaetae has been traditionally considered the main character to identify S. gracilis, we conclude that this feature is homoplastic. Instead, we propose that characters such as the degree of fusion of blades and shafts in chaetae, the morphology of the posterior chaetae or the animal color pattern should be considered to differentiate lineages within the S. gracilis species complex. Our study does not support the cosmopolitanism of S. gracilis, and instead provides morphological and molecular evidence of the existence of a complex of pseudo-cryptic species.
Kvist, S., A. Oceguera-Figueroa, M. Tessler, J. Jiménez-Armenta, R.M. Freeman, G. Giribet, and M.E. Siddall. 2017. “When predator becomes prey: investigating the salivary transcriptome of the shark-feeding leech Pontobdella macrothela (Hirudinea: Piscicolidae).” Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 179 (4): 725–737. Publisher's Version Abstract
Although several leech species have recently been screened for anticoagulation factors, piscicolids represent a major gap in our knowledge of the distribution of these proteins across the phylogeny of leeches. Piscicolidae is predominantly a marine family and its members feed on a variety of fish species. The pontobdelline species Pontobdella macrothela has evolved a preference for feeding on elasmobranch blood and, because of this, may have a divergent anticoagulant repertoire, compared to its mammal-, reptile- and amphibian-feeding counterparts. Representing the first piscicolid leech comprehensively investigated, here we convey results from a salivary transcriptome sequencing effort of P. macrothela collected from a blacktip shark (Carcharinus limbatus) in Veracruz, Mexico (Western Gulf of Mexico). Following orthology determination based on phylogenetic inference, amino acid conservation and a series of BLAST searches against the UniProtKB database, as well as searches of Pfam domains, we identified matches against ten known anticoagulants in the P. macrothela transcriptome. In addition, 13 hits were recovered against proteins that have previously been linked to anticoagulation but whose functions within leeches are not unequivocally understood. Finally, we discuss the largely untested hypothesis that prey choice in leeches impacts the diversity of anticoagulants.

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