Marine Biology

, Volume 147, Issue 2, pp 411–420 | Cite as

Phylogenetic relationships within Ovulidae (Gastropoda: Cypraeoidea) based on molecular data from the 16S rRNA gene

  • S. SchiaparelliEmail author
  • M. Barucca
  • E. Olmo
  • M. Boyer
  • A. Canapa
Research Article


Closely interacting groups, such as hosts and parasites, sometimes provide useful models to study evolution and adaptive processes. In Ovulidae, a widespread family of specialised browsing carnivorous molluscs that feed on polyps and tissues of Anthozoa, close association with the host has produced a plethora of adaptations affecting shell morphology, colour pattern and mantle shape. These morphological characters have been widely used in ovulid taxonomy, although putative differences are often based on trivial and inconsistent variations. In this work we used a molecular approach to generate the basal phylogeny of the family. Phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene sequences of 32 species from 23 genera reveal unexpected taxonomic groupings from the genus up to the family level, as well as unexpected phenomena of homoplasy in conchological features. Since molecular phylogenies also provide an evolutionary framework where character transformations are polarised, we used this basal ovulid phylogeny to explore the specificity of the association and the degree of morphological adaptation to the host.


Colour Pattern Soft Coral Shell Morphology Black Coral Extinct Taxon 
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 thank G. Franci for her kind assistance in the field and in the laboratory; Celebes Divers, the Biodiversity Program, LIPI (Indonesian Institute for Science), and Prof. Berhimpon for providing assistance and facilities during the expeditions; D. Moreno Lapreave and C. Cerrano kindly provided ovulid pictures. We thank M. Oliverio, C. Meyer and an anonymous reviewer for comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript. We declare that the experiments we performed comply with the current laws of Italy. This study was financed by grant from the Italian Ministero degli Affari Esteri.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Schiaparelli
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. Barucca
    • 2
  • E. Olmo
    • 2
  • M. Boyer
    • 3
  • A. Canapa
    • 2
  1. 1.Dip.Te.Ris., Dipartimento per lo Studio del Territorio e delle sue RisorseUniversità degli Studi di GenovaGenoaItaly
  2. 2.Istituto di Biologia e GeneticaUniversità Politecnica delle MarcheAnconaItaly
  3. 3.Biodiversity ProjectManadoIndonesia

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