Molecular identification and larval morphology of spionid polychaetes (Annelida, spionidae) from northeastern Japan

Hirokazu Abe, Waka Sato‐okoshi

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Planktonic larvae of spionid polychaetes are among the most common and abundant group in coastal meroplankton worldwide. The present study reports the morphology of spionid larvae collected mainly from coastal waters of northeastern Japan that were identified by the comparison of adult and larval 18S and 16S rRNA gene sequences. The molecular analysis effectively discriminated the species. Adult sequences of 48 species from 14 genera (Aonides Claparède, 1864; Boccardia Carazzi, 1893; Boccardiella Blake & Kudenov, 1978; Dipolydora Verrill, 1881; Laonice Malmgren, 1867; Malacoceros Quatrefages, 1843; Paraprionospio Caullery, 1914; Polydora Bosc, 1802; Prionospio Malmgren, 1867; Pseudopolydora Czerniavsky, 1881; Rhynchospio Hartman, 1936; Scolelepis Blainville, 1828; Spio Fabricius, 1785; Spiophanes Grube, 1860) and larval sequences of 41 species from 14 genera (Aonides; Boccardia; Boccardiella; Dipolydora; Laonice; Paraprionospio; Poecilochaetus Claparède in Ehlers, 1875; Polydora; Prionospio; Pseudopolydora; Rhynchospio; Scolelepis; Spio; Spiophanes) of spionid polychaetes were obtained; sequences of 27 of these species matched between adults and larvae. Morphology of the larvae was generally species-specific, and larvae from the same genus mostly shared morphological features, with some exceptions. Color and number of eyes, overall body shape, and type and arrangement of pigmentation are the most obvious differences between genera or species. The morphological information on spionid larvae provided in this study contributes to species or genus level larval identification of this taxon in the studied area. Identification keys to genera and species of planktonic spionid larvae in northeastern Japan are provided. The preliminary results of the molecular phylogeny of the family Spionidae using 18S and 16S rRNA gene regions are also provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-86
Number of pages86
Issue number1015
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • 16S rRNA
  • 18S rRNA
  • Larval identification
  • Meroplankton
  • Molecular identification
  • Phylogeny
  • Planktonic larvae


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