2021 Volume 16 Issue 1 Pages 73-77
Phyllochaetopterus (Annelida: Chaetopteridae) is a diverse genus of tube-dwelling polychaetes found in a wide range of marine environments from subtidal to abyssal depths, including chemosynthesis-based ecosystems. The Shinkai Seep Field (SSF) is a serpentinite-hosted system in the Mariana Trench, where the deepest-known Phyllochaetopterus polychaetes inhabit the surfaces of brucite/carbonate chimneys. Despite all specimens collected from SSF being morphologically consistent with P. polus originally described from a deep-sea hot vent on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, molecular barcoding using the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene revealed at least three cryptic lineages, none of which corresponded to P. polus. Phylogenetic reconstruction recovered P. polus embedded among the three SSF lineages, confirming their close relationship. These results warrant careful examination of Phyllochaetopterus from other regions using integrative taxonomy in order to understand its true diversity and pinpoint further taxonomically informative morphological characters.