Evolution

Fishing for Worms

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Science  21 Nov 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5905, pp. 1164
DOI: 10.1126/science.322.5905.1164c

The earthworm Allolobophora chlorotica has two color morphs: pink and green. The facts that these morphs are found in different habitats and crosses between them are sterile have suggested that they represent distinct species. King et al. have examined two mitochondrial genes of A. chlorotica and eight other worms in the United Kingdom. They found that four of the worms, including A. chlorotica, displayed relatively high levels of diversity in the pair of mitochondrial genes. Furthermore, polymorphism markers showed similar divergence for A. chlorotica, where five deeply divergent clades were identified—three clades corresponding to the pink morphotype and two to the green. The relationships among these clades suggest that A. chlorotica, along with three of the other British earthworms, is actually a group of cryptic species as opposed to a single species with phenotypic diversity. — LMZ

Mol. Ecol. 17, 4684 (2008).

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