How oogenesis analysis combined with DNA barcode can help to elucidate taxonomic ambiguities: a polychaete study-based approach



Integrative taxonomy, “Polychaeta”, oogenesis, histology, COI, cryptic species


Abstract: Polychaetes are common in coastal and estuarine environments worldwide and constitute one of the most complex groups of marine invertebrates. The morpho-physiology of the female reproductive system (FRS) can be understood by using histological tools to describe reproductive cycle and gametogenesis paths and, among other purposes, aiming to identify and differentiate polychaete species. However, this histology-based approach is rarely combined with molecular tools, which is known to accurately delimitate species. In the same way, the description and understanding of oogenesis and vitellogenesis paths within polychaetes are lacking for most families, narrowing the range of its utility. Therefore, the present study aims to describe the oogenesis in three polychaete species common and abundant on the South American Atlantic coast (Laeonereis culveri, Scolelepis goodbodyi and Capitella biota) and investigate the utility of reproductive features and gametogenesis as a relevant associate knowledge to discriminate species, particularly useful for putative cryptic species, integrated with morphological and molecular data. In a first attempt, the results obtained herein allow the authors to describe two new subtypes of oogenesis, dividing it in extraovarian oogenesis type I and II and intraovarian type I and II. The results also demonstrate that the following histological characters of the FRS can be relevant for the separation of related species: a) oogenesis type, b) occurrence or absence of a true ovary, c) ovary tissue organization, d) type of accessory cells present, and e) oocyte morphology. Additionally, these histological features of FRS, when compared with correlated species studied under this scope, converge with the genetic data. The analysis of cytochrome oxidase I (COI) barcode sequences differentiates between North and South American Atlantic populations of L. culveri (16.78% genetic distance), while in S. goodbodyi and C. biota it discriminates them from their congeneric species. These results highlight the importance of multi-tool approach and shows that both FRS histology and histo-physiology, and DNA barcoding can be used to identify and discriminate cryptic species, which is usually not possible when using morphological characters. Besides, these characters may also be useful in differentiating related species, and/or geographically distinct populations among polychaetes.




How to Cite

Sampieri, B. R., Steiner, T. M., Baroni, P. C., Silva, C. F. da, Teixeira, M. A. L., Vieira, P. E., Costa, F. O., & Amaral, A. C. Z. (2020). How oogenesis analysis combined with DNA barcode can help to elucidate taxonomic ambiguities: a polychaete study-based approach. Biota Neotropica, 20(3). Retrieved from