Antarctic Science

Distinguishing cryptic species in Antarctic Asellota (Crustacea: Isopoda) - a preliminary study of mitochondrial DNA in Acanthaspidia drygalskii

Michael J. Raupach a1p1c1 and Johann-Wolfgang Wägele a2
a1 Lehrstuhl für Spezielle Zoologie, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitätsstraβe 150, D-44780 Bochum, Germany
a2 Lehrstuhl für Spezielle Zoologie, Fachgruppe Biologie der Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Adenauerallee 160, D-53113 Bonn, Germany

Article author query
raupach mj   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
wägele j-w   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Acanthaspid isopods are well known from the deep sea regions of all oceans. Many species have been found also on the continental shelf around Antarctica. Phylogenetic relationships within the Acanthaspidiidae and the genetic differentiation of populations are poorly understood. In this study we analysed 16S rRNA gene sequences of 36 specimens of Acanthaspidiidae, including 17 specimens of Acanthaspidia drygalskii Vanhöffen, 1914. This species is known from several locations along the Antarctic shelf, supporting the idea of a circum-Antarctic distribution of this taxon. Our molecular data support the monophyly of all six species analysed, but there is only limited evidence for the interspecific relationships between the species. However, we were able to identify three distinct groups of haplotypes within Acanthaspidia drygaskii. Our results indicate the evidence of cryptic, reproductively isolated species. Further data are needed to understand mechanisms underlying speciation in deep sea isopods.

(Received July 1 2005)
(Accepted October 25 2005)

Key Words: Acanthaspidiidae; Antarctica; haplotypes; phylogeny; 16S rDNA; Weddell Sea.

c1 Corresponding author:
p1 Current address: Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig (ZFMK), Adenauerallee 160, D-53113 Bonn, Germany