Snails, mussels, squids as different as they may look, they do have something in common: they all belong to the phylum Mollusca, also called molluscs. An international team of researchers headed by Kevin Kocot and Professor Ken Halanych, USA, with the participation of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), Germany, has carried out research into the relationships among different molluscs as part of a wide-ranging molecular phylogenetic study. This phylum includes more than 100,000 extant species which are divided into eight major lineages. Up to now, it has been disputed how these groups are related to each other and how they evolved. Through their collaboration, the scientists have now assembled a comprehensive data set and analyzed it in order to reveal the phylogeny of Mollusca. Surprisingly, they found a close relationship between snails and mussels.
Within the Metazoa, molluscs are the second species-rich group behind arthropods. As a food source and a provider of pearls and shells, it is in particular mussels, snails, and squids which are of tremendous economic importance while, on the other hand, they can also cause considerable damage both in ecological and economic terms. In the field of neuroscience, many species serve as models for studying the function of nerve cells and the brain in general. And yet the development of molluscs is something of a mystery and has been the subject of intense debate for almost 200 years.
Under the direction of Auburn University, Alabama, USA, the international group of scientists from the University of Bergen, the University of Florida, and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz compiled a data set that includes 84,000 amino acid positions on 308 genes of 49 mollusc species. "It is the first time ever that such a large molecular data set has been created for the purpose of explaining from scratch the phylogeny of molluscs, after so many years of different hypotheses being put fo
|Contact: Dr. Bernhard Lieb|
Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz