Karyotypes for several East Pacific Rise hydrothermal vent invertebrates are described here for the first time: the vestimentiferans Riftia pachyptila and Oasisia alvinae, the alvinellid polychaetes Alvinella pompejana, A. caudata and Paralvinella grasslei, the polynoid polychaetes Branchinotogluma grasslei and Branchipolynoe symmytilida, the serpulid Laminatubus alvini and the mytilid bivalve Bathymodiolus thermophilus. For comparative purposes, the karyotype of the Atlantic vent mussel Bathymodiolus azoricus is also described here for the first time. Each species has its own unique chromosomal characteristics which can be interpreted both in terms of group characteristics and species divergence. From comparisons with published results on other vent species and closely-related coastal species, we identified a positive correlation between chromosome number variation and molecular divergence at two ribosomal ribonucleic acid gene loci (the 18S and 28S rRNA). Whilst the patterns of chromosome divergence we found were generally within the ranges previously reported for these taxonomic groupings, there was an apparent inconsistency in the case of Branchipolynoe symmytilida (EPR) and Branchipolynoe seepensis (MAR), which show a greater degree of divergence at the chromosome level compared with other members of the same genus. Moreover, polychaetes as a whole showed greater variation in the number and structural divergence of chromosomes compared to Mytilids (structural information only). Our findings highlight the great potential for chromosome analysis in future taxonomic and evolutionary studies of the deep-sea vent fauna.
(Received August 07 2008)
(Accepted November 07 2008)
(Online publication August 19 2009)