Lemer, Sarah, Kawauchi, Gisele Y., Andrade, Sónia C. S., González, Vanessa L., Boyle, Michael J. and Giribet, Gonzalo
Sipunculans (also known as peanut worms) are an ancient group of exclusively marine worms with a global distribution and fossil record that dates back to the Early Cambrian. The systematics of sipunculans, now considered a distinct subclade of Annelida, has been studied for decades using morphological and molecular characters, and has reached the limits of Sanger-based approaches. Here, we reevaluate their family-level phylogeny by comparative transcriptomic analysis of eight species representing all known families within Sipuncula. Two data matrices with alternative gene occupancy levels (large matrix with 675 genes and 62% missing data; reduced matrix with 141 genes and 23% missing data) were analyzed using concatenation and gene-tree methods, yielding congruent results and resolving each internal node with maximum support. We thus corroborate prior phylogenetic work based on molecular data, resolve outstanding issues with respect to the familial relationships of Aspidosiphonidae, Antillesomatidae and Phascolosomatidae, and highlight the next area of focus for sipunculan systematics.