Tubeworms with Really Big…

Evolution 2009


Yesterday, at Evolution 2009 I also attended the talk of Maria Miglietta from KZ’s old stomping grounds.  Maria discussed work on species geographic boundaries of vestmentiferan tube worms primarily in the Gulf of Mexico.  Let me say the irony of seeing  a deep-sea talk in the middle of Idaho is not lost on me.

Examining a variety of genes she finds that many of the morphospecies of tubeworms in the GOM are not genetically differentiated.  Interestingly, her analyses also show that pretty much everything splits into two major groups, the Lammelibrachia and just about everything else.  It will be interesting to see if she can eventually elucidate the when and why of this evolutionary split.  One of the most exciting findings is that a species from the GOM, near Africa, and the Pacific are genetically very similiar suggesting 1.) the species has an incredible larval dispersal phase or 2.) that many undiscovered cold seeps, the habitat of the species Miglietta is examining, exist that would serve as stepping stones for the species.

Dr. M (1730 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

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2 comments on “Tubeworms with Really Big…
  1. where from Africa do the tubeworms come from? Are there hydrothermal vents or cold seeps?

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