An earthworm riddle: Systematics and phylogeography of the Spanish lumbricid postandrilus

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Background: As currently defined, the genus Postandrilus Qui and Bouché, 1998, (Lumbricidae) includes six earthworm species, five occurring in Majorca (Baleares Islands, western Mediterranean) and another in Galicia (NW Spain). This disjunct and restricted distribution raises some interesting phylogeographic questions: (1) Is Postandrilus distribution the result of the separation of the Baleares-Kabylies (BK) microplate from the proto-Iberian Peninsula in the Late Oligocene (30-28 Mya) - vicariant hypothesis? (2) Did Postandrilus diversify in Spain and then colonize the Baleares during the Messinian salinity crisis (MSC) 5.96-5.33 Mya - dispersal hypothesis? (3) Is the distribution the result of a two-step process - vicariance with subsequent dispersal? Methodology/Principal Findings: To answer these questions and assess Postandrilus evolutionary relationships and systematics, we collected all of the six Postandrilus species (46 specimens - 16 locations) and used Aporrectodea morenoe and three Prosellodrilus and two Cataladrilus species as the outgroup. Regions of the nuclear 28S rDNA and mitochondrial 16S rDNA, 12S rDNA, ND1, COII and tRNA genes (4,666 bp) were sequenced and analyzed using maximum likelihood and Bayesian methods of phylogenetic and divergence time estimation. The resulting trees revealed six new Postandrilus species in Majorca that clustered with the other five species already described. This Majorcan clade was sister to an Iberian clade including A. morenoe (outgroup) and Postandrilus bertae. Our phylogeny and divergence time estimates indicated that the split between the Iberian and Majorcan Postandrilus clades took place 30.1 Mya, in concordance with the break of the BK microplate from the proto-Iberian Peninsula, and that the present Majorcan clade diversified 5.7 Mya, during the MSC. Conclusions: Postandrilus is highly diverse including multiple cryptic species in Majorca. The genus is not monophyletic and invalid as currently defined. Postandrilus is of vicariant origin and its radiation began in the Late Oligocene. © 2011 Pérez -Losada et al.




Pérez-Losada, M., Breinholt, J. W., Porto, P. G., Aira, M., & Domínguez, J. (2011). An earthworm riddle: Systematics and phylogeography of the Spanish lumbricid postandrilus. PLoS ONE, 6(11).

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