On June 7th Nina Therese Mikkelsen presented her thesis ” Phylogeny and systematics of Caudofoveata (Mollusca, Aplacophora)” for a public audience. She was questioned by the opponents dr Mikael Thollesson, University of Uppsala, and dr Suzanne Williams, The Natural History Museum of London, and did an excellent performance explaining the results of her studies.
Our PhD student Nina T. Mikkelsen, with co-laborators Kevin Kocot and Kenneth Halanych, are now publishing results from their examination of the mitochondrial genomes of the aplacophoran molluscs. The paper is available from Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution at this link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2018.04.031
In 2008 UiB colleagues Kenneth Meland and Endre Willassen surveyed karst caves in Zanzibar together with Hajj M. Hajj in search for aquatic crustacea. Many of these localities have so-called anchialine conditions in which marine water penetrates inland and can mix more or less with fresh ground water.
One of these sites had three species of small shrimps of the family Atyidae. The phylogenetic relationships of these shrimps have now been analysed by an international team of “cave men” based on full mitochondrial genome sequencing performed at the University of the Balears.
Molecular clock estimates date the relationship of the Zanzibarian species to other known species in the Atlantic and Indo-pacific to the Cretaceous period.
The paper is available from this link:
Andrea successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis “Dietary specialization and molecular phylogeny of the family Aglajidae (Cephalaspidea: Gastropoda) with species delimitation analysis and biogeography of two genera from the clade Chelidonura sensu lato” earlier today. She was supervised by Manuel A.E. Malaquias from the Department of Natural History, UM, and Henrik Glenner from the Department of Biology.
You can read more about her work here (in Norwegian)
Congratulations and all the best wishes from us!
Below are photos of some of the species, if you are wondering how they look (pics by Manuel)
Untangling the diversity and evolution of Sea Hares
Dr Carlo M. Cunha from the Metropolitan University of Santos in Brazil (Universidade Metropolitana de Santos), a world expert in the diversity and systematics of Anaspidea heterobranch gastropods, visited the Natural History Museum of Bergen for a month during January/February 2017 to study our scientific collection of these molluscs. The visit was funded by the University of Bergen´s Strategic Programme for International Research and Education (SPIRE).
The Museum holds a large amount of material from the Scandinavian region, but also from the Mediterranean, Macaronesia islands, Caribbean, and western Indian Ocean.
These marine molluscs commonly known by sea hares comprise around 90 currently known species and have long been of major interest to biologists because of their large and easily accessible nervous system, which form the basis of numerous neurophysiological works.
However, the taxonomy of these molluscs and their evolution are still poorly understood. Dr Cunha is using a combination of molecular and morphological tools to learn more about the worldwide diversity of anaspideans and their phylogenetic relationships.
Dr Cunha visit to Bergen has already resulted in the revision and update of the taxonomy of our Anaspidea collection. The Norwegian species of anaspids were revised and redescribed in detail using electron microscopy and DNA barcoding performed in collaboration with Louise Lindblom (University Museum / Biodiversity Labs).
Additionally several other species from around the world were studied and will be integrated in ongoing taxonomic revisions. Keep tuned!
We’ve also had Lloyd visiting recently, you’ll find a post about that on the Marine Invertebrates of Western Africa blog: click here
Congratulations to Jenni, our (former!) master student, who presented her MSc project last Friday!
She has been working on the phylogenetic systematics and evolution of a genus of small marine gastropods called Phanerophthalmus, and she’s done an impressive amount of work.
The project was titled
Systematics, biogeography, and trophic ecology of the genus
Phanerophthalmus A. Adams, 1850 (Mollusca, Cephalaspidea, Haminoeidae) in
the Indo-West Pacific, and was supervised by Manuel Malaquias.
We wish you all the best, Jenni!
Polina Borisova, a first year master student from the Zoological Department of the Moscow State University (Russia), is coming to the Invertebrate Collections of the University Museum of Bergen with a 1-month research visit in January 2017.
Polina is going to work on the bristle worms from the family Lumbrineridae studying the collection from West Africa and Norway. Her project is jointly supervised by Dr. Nataliya Budaeva from the University Museum of Bergen and Dr. Alexander Tzetlin from the Moscow University.
Lumbrineridae are the worms with relatively poor external morphology but complex jaw apparatus. The structure of jaws has been traditionally used in the systematics of the family in the generic diagnoses. Polina is utilizing the methods of microCT to study the jaws of lumbrinerids in 3D.
Polina is also going to sequence several genetic markers to reconstruct the first molecular phylogeny of the family. This will allow testing the current hypothesis on the intergeneric relationships within Lumbrineridae and will aid in tracing the evolution of jaws within the family.
-Nataliya & Polina
Does that not sound appealing?
It was actually a lovely event!
The 12th International Polychaete Conference took place in Cardiff, Wales during the first week of August. These events have been taking place every third year since 1981, and the previous one was in Sydney, Australia in 2013.
During an intensive week of presentations and posters spanning topics within Systematics, Phylogeny, Ecology, Methodologies, Biodiversity, Biodiversity and Ecology, Morphology, Reproduction & Larval Ecology, Development, and Polychaete studies, people had the chance to showcase their work, and learn more about what others are working on. The local organising committee invited us to “Have a happy conference, re-connecting with those already known, meeting correspondents for the first time, ans making new connections and new friends” – and I think we can safely say that the mission was accomplished!
Cardiff – and the National Museum Wales – was an excellent venue for “polychaetologists” from all over the globe.
In all we were 190 attendees from about 30 countries present – including a sizeable Norwegian group! Some of us (below) gave talks, and most were also involved in posters. Results and material from large projects and surveys such as PolyNor (Polychaete diversity in Nordic Seas), MAREANO (Marine AREA database for NOrwegian waters), NorBOL (The Norwegian Barcode of Life), and MIWA (Marine Invertebrates of West Africa) were all well incorporated in the Norwegian contributions.
There were in fact a lot of contributions involving one or more collaborators from a Norwegian institution (UM, NTNU, NIVA, The SARS center, NHM Oslo, Akvaplan-NIVA ++) being presented during the conference. It is really nice to see that the community is growing through recruitment of both students and international researchers.
As Torkild said in his excellent blog post (in Norwegian, translation by me):
With so many active participants in the field, a lot of exciting research is being carried out in Norway. Not only do we have many projects – large and small – running at our institutions involving our “regular” Norwegian collaborators; there is also a significant proportion of international participation in these projects.
Furthermore, our activities enable researchers from all over the world to visit or loan from our scientific collections, and study the substantial (new) material that the projects are generating. It is nice to see that our efforts are being recognized in the international community! The recent flurry of activities has been well aided by the Norwegian Species Initiative (Artsprosjektet) (and the MIWA-project at UM).
The majority of our research is based on, or incorporates, museum material from our collections. The collections have been built over years, decades and even centuries, and continue to increase in scientific value as new science is added.
It is gratifying to see the material being used, and we hope it will gain even more attention in the aftermath of the conference.
The University Museum was well represented, both in attendance, and in contributions. Below is a list of what we (co-)authored, presenting author is in bold, and University Museum people are in italics. We plan on posting some of the posters here, so stay tuned for that!
- Giants vs pygmies: two strategies in the evolution of deep-sea quill worms (Onuphidae, Annelida)
Nataliya Budaeva, Hannelore Paxton, Pedro Ribeiro, Pilar Haye, Dmitry Schepetov, Javier Sellanes, Endre Willassen
- DNA barcoding contributing to new knowledge on diversity and distribution of Polychaeta (Annelida) in Norwegian and adjacent waters
Torkild Bakken, Jon A. Kongsrud, Katrine Kongshavn, Eivind Oug, Tom Alvestad, Nataliya Budaeva, Arne Nygren, Endre Willassen
- Diversity and phylogeny of Diopatra bristle worms (Onuphidae, Annelida) from West Africa
Martin Hektoen, Nataliya Budaeva
- Experiences after three years of automated DNA barcoding of Polychaeta
Katrine Kongshavn, Jon Anders Kongsrud, Torkild Bakken, Tom Alvestad, Eivind Oug, Arne Nygren, Nataliya Budaeva, Endre Willassen
- Diversity and species distributions of Glyceriformia in shelf areas off western Africa
Lloyd Allotey, Akanbi Bamikole Williams, Jon Anders Kongsrud, Tom Alvestad, Katrine Kongshavn, Endre Willassen
- Eclysippe Eliason, 1955 (Annelida, Ampharetidae) from the North Atlantic with the description of a new species from Norwegian waters
Tom Alvestad, Jon Anders Kongsrud, Katrine Kongshavn
- Phylogeny of Ampharetidae
Mari Heggernes Eilertsen, Tom Alvestad, Hans Tore Rapp, Jon Anders Kongsrud
- Ophelina (Polychaeta, Opheliidae) in Norwegian waters and adjacent areas – taxonomy, identification and species distributions
Jon Anders Kongsrud, Eivind Oug, Torkild Bakken, Arne Nygren, Katrine Kongshavn
- Pista Malmgren, 1866 (Terebellidae) from Norway and adjacent areas
Mario H. Londoño-Mesa, Arne Nygren, Jon Anders Kongsrud
- Lumbrineridae (Annelida, Polychaeta) from Norwegian and adjacent waters with the description of a new deep-water species of Abyssoninoe
Eivind Oug, Katrine Kongshavn, Jon Anders Kongsrud
- Nephtyidae (Polychaeta, Phyllodocida) of West African shelf areas
Ascensão Ravara, Jon Anders Kongsrud, Tom Alvestad
- Phylogeny of the family Maldanidae based on molecular data
Morten Stokkan, Jon Anders Kongsrud, Endre Willassen
We had a mid-week excursion where we got to see a bit more of our hosting country; namely the impressive Caerphilly Castle constructed in the 13th century and still looking magnificent today, and a lovely lunch at the Llanerch wineyard with time for informal mingling and catching up.
Note the red dragon in the Castle wall; this is the dragon of the Welsh flag. The story goes something like this (according to Wikipedia, at least!): From the Historia Brittonum, written around 830 a text describes a struggle between two serpents deep underground, which prevents King Vortigern from building a stronghold. This story was later adapted into a prophecy made by the wizard Myrddin (or Merlin) of a long fight between a red dragon and a white dragon. According to the prophecy, the white dragon, representing the Saxons, would at first dominate but eventually the red dragon, symbolising the Britons, would be victorious.
Being museum people (er..? People employed at a museum, I mean!) ourselves, we made sure to visit the exhibitions as well, and especially the new “Wriggle!” exhibition, which is all about..worms! Lots of fun, and a*a lot* of information packed in. Make sure to visit it, if you get the chance!
Finally, we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the arranging committee – DIOLCH!
ps: Dw i’n hoffi mwydod!
Sea slugs and San Francisco
I am three months into the second year of my masters in marine biology, and was lucky enough to start off this semester with a three week trip to San Francisco in order to collect material for my project.
I am writing my master thesis for the University museum of Bergen on the phylogenetic systematics and evolution of a small marine gastropod.
The title of my project is “Patterns of speciation in the Indo-West Pacific, with a systematic review of the genus Phanerophthalmus (Cephalaspidea, Haminoeidae)”.
I will be using an integrative taxonomic approach combining fine-scale anatomical dissections and molecular phylogenetics to revise the taxonomy and be able to better understand the relationships of the species. The group is restricted to the shallow waters of the Indo-West Pacific and may therefore be used as a good model to study speciation and the historical biogeography of other organisms in this region.
In order to obtain specimens for this project loans have been made from various museums and academic institutions around the world. In total I have 60 specimens on loan from these various institutions, however they still only represent part of the diversity of the genus with limited geographical coverage. The California Academy of Sciences (CAS) in San Francisco holds the largest collection of sea slugs in the World, including specimens of the genus Phanerophthalmus, with over 100 specimens. So, it was arranged for me to visit this large collection and assess what was important for my project. Travelling to CAS also meant I was able to work alongside Dr. Terry Gosliner, a leading expert in the field of malacology.
So, on January 16th I got on a 10 hour flight to San Francisco. I stayed at a guest house in the Richmond district of San Francisco, about 40 min walk or 30 min bus from CAS.
Waking up on Sunday morning I was a bit jetlagged, but super excited to be in San Francisco. As it was Martin Luther King Jr. day tomorrow (Monday), I had two days to recover from the flight and adjust to the time difference (9 hours behind Bergen!).
I decided to go and explore the city so I took a bus to downtown San Francisco and went to Fisherman’s Wharf, to Pier 39 where the Aquarium of the bay is and also the California sea lions.
On Monday I went to see where I was going to be spending the next three weeks: at the California Academy of Sciences. Situated in Golden Gate park, the surroundings were beautiful.
After visiting the grounds of CAS I wandered over to the Golden Gate Bridge. There was rain in the air and the fog was coming down but the view of the bridge was spectacular.
Tuesday morning I arrived at CAS eager to dive into the collections. Terry met me at the staff entrance and after a chat and a coffee we got to work. The CAS database contained more than 100 specimens of Phanerophthalmus. The first few days were spent examining labels and matching live photos with specimens. The amount of material was a bit overwhelming and even though I would have liked to look at it all, this would not be possible during my short three week visit. So with guidance from my supervisor, Manuel Malaquias, I was able to focus on the most important specimens. As I am looking at the phylogeny of Phanerophthalmus it is important for me to have specimens which I can extract DNA from. It is also useful to know what these animals looked like live in order to maybe use the external morphology as a character for determining species.
The three weeks flew by so quickly. I spent my days with the collections, dissecting specimens and also got the opportunity to try the academy’s brand new scanning electron microscope. Terry was an amazing host and kept me busy. A huge thank you to him for dedicating so much time towards helping me out. Also, a huge thank you to everyone else at the academy for being so nice and welcoming. After my three weeks at CAS I had a few days to be a tourist in the city. My last weekend in the city happened to be Super Bowl 50 weekend and the city was buzzing with people and events. All in all I had a great visit, and now I have lots of material to carry on working with back in Bergen.
Onuphidae are marine bristle worms with very rich external morphology and outstanding diversity of life styles within a single polychaete family. Onuphids can be very abundant in some marine biotopes, modifying the environment by their complex ornamented tubes and influencing the structure of benthic communities. They are very widely spread in the ocean inhabiting various biotopes from the intertidal zone down to hadal depths. Onuphids are widely harvested as bait sustaining local fisheries in southeastern Australia, Mediterranean and Portuguese coasts and are even commercially farmed with the full reproductive cycle from fertilization till fully-grown worms (up to 30 cm in length) in aquaculture facility.
The system of Onuphidae with 23 genera grouped into two subfamilies has been suggested by Hannelore Paxton (1986) and has been widely accepted since then. The first phylogeny based on the analysis of the combination of 16S rDNA and 18S rDNA genes has been recently published in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. None of the subfamilies or tested genera appeared to be para- or polyphyletic showing a strong congruence between the traditional morphology-based systematics of the family and the newly obtained molecular-based phylogenetic reconstruction. However the previously suggested hypotheses on intrageneraic relationships within onuphidae were largely rejected.
Budaeva N., Schepetov D., Zanol J., Neretina T., Willassen E. 2016. When molecules support morphology: Phylogenetic reconstruction of the family Onuphidae (Eunicida, Annelida) based on 16S rDNA and 18S rDNA. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 94(B): 791–801. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2015.10.011
Paxton, H., 1986. Generic revision and relationships of the family Onuphidae (Annelida: Polychaeta). Records of the Australian Museum 38, 1–74. http://australianmuseum.net.au/uploads/journals/17658/175_complete.pdf
Aquabait Marine Worm Aquaculture: http://www.aquabait.com.au/about_aquabait_marine_worm_aquaculture.phtml
Nataliya Budaeva’s web page: http://nataliyabudaeva.wix.com/nataliyabudaeva