Polar Biology

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 320–326 | Cite as

A molecular phylogeny of antarctic chironomidae and its implications for biogeographical history

  • Giuliana Allegrucci
  • Gianmaria Carchini
  • Valentina Todisco
  • Peter Convey
  • Valerio Sbordoni
Original Paper


The chironomid midges Belgica antarctica, Eretmoptera murphyi (subfamily Orthocladiinae) and Parochlus steinenii (subfamily Podonominae), are the only Diptera species currently found in Antarctica. The relationships between these species and a range of further taxa of Chironomidae were examined by sequencing domains 1 and 3–5 of 28S ribosomal RNA. The resulting molecular relationships between B. antarctica and E. murphyi, within Orthocladiinae, were highly supported by validation analyses, confirming their position within Chironomidae, as generated by classical taxonomy. Within Podonominae, P. steinenii from the Maritime Antarctic was more closely related to material from sub-Antarctic South Georgia than to material from Patagonia. Taking advantage of the availability of a molecular substitution rate calculated for this gene in Diptera, a dating of divergence between our study taxa was tentatively established. The divergence dates obtained were 49 million years (Myr), between B. antarctica and E. murphyi, and 68.5 Myr between these species and the closest Orthocladiinae taxon tested from Patagonia, suggesting that B. antarctica and E. murphyi were representatives of an ancient lineage. As both are endemic to their respective tectonic microplates, their contemporary distribution is, therefore, likely to have been shaped by vicariance rather than dispersal.


Meiofauna Antarctic Peninsula Drake Passage South Shetland Island Relative Rate Test 
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 Dr. Annalia Paggi for determining most of the taxa of Patagonian origin, Dr. Mateo Martinic Beros, Director of the Instituto de Magallanes, for supplying formal and practical facilities and Col. Luciano Corti for his invaluable help (and patience) during G. Carchini’s sampling trip in Chilean Patagonia. We also thank Dr. Mike Curtis (BAS) for advice on palaeogeographic interpretations, and Dr. Gabriele Gentile for discussion of some genetic aspects of the paper. Dr. Bruno Rossaro gave us additional taxa from Italy and provided useful criticisms on a previous version of the paper. This research was financially supported by PNRA (the Italian Program of Antarctic Research) and by CNR (the Italian Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche) grants to G. Carchini, and BAS provided logistical and technical support allowing the collection of material and access to preserved collections. This paper also contributes to the BAS BIRESA and SCAR RiSCC Programs.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giuliana Allegrucci
    • 1
  • Gianmaria Carchini
    • 1
  • Valentina Todisco
    • 1
  • Peter Convey
    • 2
  • Valerio Sbordoni
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Rome “Tor Vergata” via della Ricerca ScientificaRomaItaly
  2. 2.British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research CouncilCambridgeUK

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