Organisms Diversity & Evolution

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 57–70 | Cite as

The phylogeny of halichondrid demosponges: past and present re-visited with DNA-barcoding data

  • Dirk Erpenbeck
  • Kathryn Hall
  • Belinda Alvarez
  • Gabriele Büttner
  • Katharina Sacher
  • Simone Schätzle
  • Astrid Schuster
  • Sergio Vargas
  • John N. A. Hooper
  • Gert Wörheide
Original Article


Halichondrid sponges play a pivotal role in the classification of demosponges as changes in their classification has had direct consequences for the classification of Demospongiae. Historically, the systematics of halichondrids has been unstable. During the 1950s, the order was divided into two subclasses, which were based on empirical and assumed reproductive data. Subsequent morphological and biochemical analyses postulated the re-merging of halichondrid families, but recent molecular data indicate their polyphyly. Here we review the classification history of halichondrid taxa, compare it with the current and predominantly ribosomal molecular data, and support the new phylogenetic hypotheses with mitochondrial data from DNA barcoding.


Sponges Porifera Demospongiae Halichondrida Phylogeny Barcoding CO1 



The Sponge Barcoding Project thanks The Marine Barcode of Life initiative (MarBol), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the GeoBio-CenterLMU, for financing the subsampling and extraction of 17,000 sponge specimens of the Queensland Museum. We thank the DNA Bank at the Zoologische Staatssammlung München ( for collaboration in DNA subsampling and storage. G.W. acknowledges funding by the German Science Foundation (DFG) through the “Deep Metazoan Phylogeny” Priority Program (Project Wo896/6). We furthermore thank the editors and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dirk Erpenbeck
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Kathryn Hall
    • 2
  • Belinda Alvarez
    • 4
  • Gabriele Büttner
    • 1
  • Katharina Sacher
    • 1
  • Simone Schätzle
    • 1
  • Astrid Schuster
    • 1
  • Sergio Vargas
    • 1
  • John N. A. Hooper
    • 2
  • Gert Wörheide
    • 1
    • 3
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesLudwig-Maximilians-Universität MünchenMunichGermany
  2. 2.Biodiversity Program, Queensland Museum, South BrisbaneQldAustralia
  3. 3.GeoBio-CenterLMU Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität MünchenMunichGermany
  4. 4.Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern TerritoryDarwinAustralia
  5. 5.Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und GeologieMunichGermany

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