Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 243–252 | Cite as

On the taxonomy and phylogeny of Ctenodrilus (Annelida: Cirratulidae) with a first report from South Africa

  • Michael Weidhase
  • Christoph Bleidorn
  • Carol A. SimonEmail author
Original Paper


The Ctenodrilidae is a species-poor family of the Annelida with an often debated affiliation, ranging from constituting a distinct annelid order to being part of the Cirratulidae. Furthermore, relationships of the included genera and species are not resolved. Ctenodrilus serratus, by far the most common member of this taxon, appears to have a worldwide distribution. As molecular data are lacking for most reports, it is unknown if this species is cosmopolitan, or a complex of potentially cryptic species. Here we describe the first discovery of C. cf. serratus from Kleinzee oyster farms (South Africa). Besides morphological characterization, we analyzed the CO1 sequence in comparison to C. serratus from Helgoland (Germany, North Sea). Additionally, we included several cirratulid sequences with a special focus on Dodecaceria and another ctenodrilid, Raricirrus beryli, to illuminate the relationship of C. serratus and the Ctenodrilidae in general. Our findings support the idea that both investigated ctenodrilids represent progenetic members of the Cirratulidae but do not support monophyly of the former Ctenodrilidae. Whereas C. serratus is closely related to Dodecaceria (or possibly nested within), R. beryli is recovered as a sister taxon to the multi-tentaculated cirratulid genera Cirratulus, Cirriformia and Timarete. Finally, the similarity of C. serratus to larvae of D. concharum is discussed, supporting the hypothesis of progenetic evolution.


Ctenodrilidae Ctenodrilus serratus Dodecaceria Phylogeny Polychaete Progenesis 



The authors are grateful to Martin Schlegel for providing materials and facilities, as well as to Michael Gerth and Elisabeth Wünsche for supporting the molecular analyses. A further word of gratitude applies to Sarah Faulwetter and Georgios Chatzigeorgiou for providing a specimen, Q. Snethlage for providing the oysters, and Melih Ertan Çinar for his verification of T. punctata determination. Finally, we thank Peter H. Gibson for his critical remarks concerning the problems of Dodecaceria taxonomy. MW was supported by special funding of the University of Leipzig and CAS was supported by the National Research Foundation (Thuthuka programme) and Stellenbosch University (Subcommittee B).

Conflicts of interest


Supplementary material

12526_2015_355_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (7 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 7.40 kb)
12526_2015_355_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (103 kb)
Fig. S1 (PDF 102 kb)
12526_2015_355_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (15 kb)
Table S1 (PDF 15.4 kb)


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Weidhase
    • 1
  • Christoph Bleidorn
    • 1
  • Carol A. Simon
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Molecular Evolution and Animal Systematics, Institute of BiologyUniversity of LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Department of Botany and ZoologyStellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa

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