, Volume 843, Issue 1, pp 51–59 | Cite as

Progress in glass sponge phylogenetics: a comment on Kersken et al. (2018)

  • Martin DohrmannEmail author
Opinion Paper


Kersken et al. (Hydrobiologia 811:283–293, 2018) recently reported a phylogenetic analysis of ribosomal DNA of glass sponges (Porifera: Hexactinellida) including new specimens from the NE Pacific. Their study is important as it significantly increased the taxon sampling of this important deep-sea group. Unfortunately, there are several issues with these authors’ dataset assembly and choice of phylogenetic analysis methods. Furthermore, they did not consider previous literature that is highly relevant to interpretation of their results. Here I provide critically constructive comments on their paper and present an alternative analysis that utilizes established methodological techniques. I show that several of Kersken et al.’s findings and claims are unsustainable, and provide an extended discussion of the updated glass sponge phylogeny.


Hexactinellida COI Phylogenetic analysis Ribosomal DNA Secondary structure Taxon sampling 



I thank Gert Wörheide for providing computational resources, and Michelle Kelly and two anonymous reviewers for critical comments that improved the manuscript.


  1. Adams, C. L., J. O. McInerney & M. Kelly, 1999. Indications of relationships between poriferan classes using full-length 18S rRNA gene sequences. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 44: 33–43.Google Scholar
  2. Altschul, S. F., W. Gish, W. Miller, E. W. Myers & D. J. Lipman, 1990. Basic local alignment search tool. Journal of Molecular Biology 215: 403–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Borchiellini, C., M. Manuel, E. Alivon, N. Boury-Esnault, J. Vacelet & Y. Le Parco, 2001. Sponge paraphyly and the origin of Metazoa. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 14: 171–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boury-Esnault, N., J. Vacelet, M. Dubois, A. Goujard, M. Fourt, T. Pérez & P. Chevaldonné, 2017. New hexactinellid sponges from deep Mediterranean canyons. Zootaxa 4236: 118–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boury-Esnault, N., J. Vacelet, H. M. Reiswig, M. Fourt, R. Aguilar & P. Chevaldonné, 2015. Mediterranean hexactinellid sponges, with the description of a new Sympagella species (Porifera, Hexactinellida). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 95: 1353–1364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Collins, A. G., 1998. Evaluating multiple alternative hypotheses for the origin of Bilateria: an analysis of 18S rRNA molecular evidence. Proceedings of the National Acadamy of Sciences of the United States of America 95: 15458–15463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dohrmann, M., A. G. Collins & G. Wörheide, 2009. New insights into the phylogeny of glass sponges (Porifera, Hexactinellida): monophyly of Lyssacinosida and Euplectellinae, and the phylogenetic position of Euretidae. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 52: 257–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dohrmann, M., C. Göcke, D. Janussen, J. Reitner, C. Lüter & G. Wörheide, 2011. Systematics and spicule evolution in dictyonal sponges (Hexactinellida: Sceptrulophora) with description of two new species. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 163: 1003–1025.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dohrmann, M., C. Göcke, J. Reed & D. Janussen, 2012a. Integrative taxonomy justifies a new genus, Nodastrella gen. nov., for North Atlantic “Rossella” species (Porifera: Hexactinellida: Rossellidae). Zootaxa 3383: 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dohrmann, M., K. M. Haen, D. V. Lavrov & G. Wörheide, 2012b. Molecular phylogeny of glass sponges (Porifera, Hexactinellida): increased taxon sampling and inclusion of the mitochondrial protein-coding gene, cytochrome oxidase subunit I. Hydrobiologia 687: 11–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dohrmann, M., D. Janussen, J. Reitner, A. G. Collins & G. Wörheide, 2008. Phylogeny and evolution of glass sponges (Porifera, Hexactinellida). Systematic Biology 57: 388–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dohrmann, M., C. Kelley, M. Kelly, A. Pisera, J. N. A. Hooper & H. M. Reiswig, 2017. An integrative systematic framework helps to reconstruct skeletal evolution of glass sponges (Porifera, Hexactinellida). Frontiers in Zoology 14: 18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dohrmann, M., O. Voigt, D. Erpenbeck & G. Wörheide, 2006. Non-monophyly of most supraspecific taxa of calcareous sponges (Porifera, Calcarea) revealed by increased taxon sampling and partitioned Bayesian analysis of ribosomal DNA. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 40: 830–843.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Duplessis, K. & H. M. Reiswig, 2004. Three new species and a new genus of Farreidae (Porifera: Hexactinellida: Hexactinosida). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 117: 199–212.Google Scholar
  15. Erpenbeck, D., S. A. Nichols, O. Voigt, M. Dohrmann, B. M. Degnan, J. N. A. Hooper & G. Wörheide, 2007. Phylogenetic analyses under secondary structure-specific substitution models outperform traditional approaches: case studies with diploblast LSU. Journal of Molecular Evolution 64: 543–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Felsenstein, J., 1985. Confidence limits on phylogenies: an approach using the bootstrap. Evolution 39: 783–791.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gong, L., X. Li & J.-W. Qiu, 2015. Two new species of Hexactinellida (Porifera) from the South China Sea. Zootaxa 4034: 182–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gouy, M., S. Guindon & O. Gascuel, 2010. SeaView version 4: a multiplatform graphical user interface for sequence alignment and phylogenetic tree building. Molecular Biology and Evolution 27: 221–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Haen, K. M., W. Pett & D. V. Lavrov, 2014. Eight new mtDNA sequences of glass sponges reveal an extensive usage of +1 frameshifting in mitochondrial translation. Gene 535: 336–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kersken, D., K. Kocot, D. Janussen, T. Schell, M. Pfenninger & P. Martínez Arbizu, 2018. First insights into the phylogeny of deep-sea glass sponges (Hexactinellida) from polymetallic nodule fields in the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCFZ), northeastern Pacific. Hydrobiologia 811: 283–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lanave, C., G. Preparata, C. Saccone & G. Serio, 1984. A new method for calculating evolutionary substitution rates. Journal of Molecular Evolution 20: 86–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Larsson, A., 2014. AliView: a fast and lightweight alignment viewer and editor for large datasets. Bioinformatics 30: 3276–3278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pattengale, N. D., M. Alipour, O. R. P. Bininda-Emonds, B. M. E. Moret & A. Stamatakis, 2010. How many bootstrap replicates are necessary? Journal of Computational Biology 17: 337–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Reiswig, H. M., 2002. Family Farreidae Gray, 1872. In Hooper, J. N. A. & R. W. M. van Soest (eds), Systema Porifera. A Guide to the Classification of Sponges. Plenum, New York: 1332–1340.Google Scholar
  25. Reiswig, H. M. & M. Dohrmann, 2014. Three new species of glass sponges (Porifera: Hexactinellida) from the West Indies, and molecular phylogenetics of Euretidae and Auloplacidae (Sceptrulophora). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 171: 233–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Reiswig, H. M. & R. P. Stone, 2013. New glass sponges (Porifera: Hexactinellida) from deep waters of the central Aleutian Islands, Alaska. Zootaxa 3628: 1–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Riesgo, A., M. Novo, P. P. Sharma, M. Peterson, M. Maldonado & G. Giribet, 2014. Inferring the ancestral sexuality and reproductive condition in sponges (Porifera). Zoologica Scripta 43: 101–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Savill, N. J., D. C. Hoyle & P. G. Higgs, 2001. RNA sequence evolution with secondary structure constraints: comparison of substitution rate models using maximum-likelihood methods. Genetics 157: 399–411.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. Stamatakis, A., 2014. RAxML version 8: a tool for phylogenetic analysis and post-analysis of large phylogenies. Bioinformatics 30: 1312–1313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Stamatakis, A., P. Hoover & J. Rougemont, 2008. A rapid bootstrap algorithm for the RAxML web servers. Systematic Biology 57: 758–771.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Tabachnick, K. R., 2002a. Family Euplectellidae Gray, 1867. In Hooper, J. N. A. & R. W. M. van Soest (eds), Systema Porifera. A Guide to the Classification of Sponges. Plenum, New York: 1388–1434.Google Scholar
  32. Tabachnick, K. R., 2002b. Family Rossellidae Schulze, 1885. In Hooper, J. N. A. & R. W. M. van Soest (eds), Systema Porifera. A Guide to the Classification of Sponges. Plenum, New York: 1441–1505.Google Scholar
  33. Tabachnick, K. R. & L. L. Menshenina, 2002. Family Pheronematidae Gray, 1870. In Hooper, J. N. A. & R. W. M. van Soest (eds), Systema Porifera. A Guide to the Classification of Sponges. Plenum, New York: 1267–1280.Google Scholar
  34. van Soest, R. W. M., Boury-Esnault, N., Hooper, J. N. A., Rützler, K., de Voogd, N. J., Alvarez, B., Hajdu, E., Pisera, A. B., Manconi, R., Schönberg, C., Klautau, M., Picton, B., Kelly, M., Vacelet, J., Dohrmann, M., Díaz, M.-C., Cárdenas, P., Carballo, J. L., Rios, P., & Downey, R. 2018. World Porifera database. Accessed July 24 2018.
  35. Vargas, S., M. Dohrmann, C. Göcke, D. Janussen & G. Wörheide, 2017. Nuclear and mitochondrial phylogeny of Rossella (Hexactinellida: Lyssacinosida, Rossellidae): a species and a species flock in the Southern Ocean. Polar Biology 40: 2435–2444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Voigt, O., D. Erpenbeck & G. Wörheide, 2008. Molecular evolution of rDNA in early diverging Metazoa: first comparative analysis and phylogenetic application of complete SSU rRNA secondary structures in Porifera. BMC Evolutionary Biology 8: 69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. West, L. & D. Powers, 1993. Molecular phylogenetic position of hexactinellid sponges in relation to the Protista and Demospongiae. Molecular Marine Biology and Biotechnology 2: 71–75.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Yang, Z., 1994. Maximum likelihood phylogenetic estimation from DNA sequences with variable rates over sites: approximate methods. Journal of Molecular Evolution 39: 306–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Zhang, Y., J. Sun, X. Li & J.-W. Qiu, 2016. The mitochondrial genome of the deep-sea glass sponge Lophophysema eversa (Porifera, Hexacinellida, Hyalonematidae). Mitochondrial DNA 27: 1273–1274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth- & Environmental Sciences, Palaeontology & GeobiologyLudwig-Maximilians-University MunichMunichGermany

Personalised recommendations