SPP 1991 Taxon-OMICS

The Taxonomic Project “Ophiuroid phylogenomics: Illuminating dark abyssal biodiversity” is part of the DFG priority program 1991 “Taxon-Omics: New approaches for discovering and naming biodiversity”. The researchers from this project combine in gerneral “taxonomy,” the process of discovering and naming new species, with exciting 21st century “-omics’”methodologies, like genomics and transcriptomics.

The main research area of the project is the Clarion-Clipperton-Zone (CCZ) in the east Pacific. This area is from special interest, because it holds the highest density of polymetallic nodules in the oceans. Previous studies discover a higher biodiversity than expected, so our project further wants to study the biodiversity of the ophiuroid fauna.

In our ongoing priority program, we collaborate with ophiuroid specialist and use classical methods in taxonomy, as for example scanning electron microscopy, to identify and describe the ophiuroid fauna focussing on the CCZ and comparative material. But we also use modern genomics methods, as for example 2b-RAD for population genetic studies or the exon capture system for phylogenetic studies. The combination will help us to infer the evolutionary history of the ophiuroids and describe the biodiversity in the abyssal deep-sea. The project has in general three interrelated components. The first is to delimitate the found ophiuroid species with morphological characteristics but also with classical Sanger sequencing using DNA barcoding. With these methods one approach will be to do a revision of the genus Ophiotholia with describing a possible new species. The second step is to analyse the phylogenetic relationships. For this we use the Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) method 2b-RAD for the global distributed species Silax daleus and Amphiophiura bullata in order to see their connectivity through their biogeographic occurrence which will be further analysed with the NGS exon capture methodogy in collaboration with the Australian colleagues Dr. Tim O’Hara and Dr. Andrew Hugall. The last step will be the phylogeographic relationship and molecular dating to discover the evolutionary history of the abyssal ophiuroid fauna.

Prof. Dr. Pedro Martínez Arbizu
Head of DZMB
Angelina Eichsteller
PhD Student

EICHSTELLER, A., TAYLOR, J., STÖHR, S., BRIX, S., & MARTINEZ ARBIZU, P. (2022). DNA Barcoding of Cold-Water Coral-Associated Ophiuroid Fauna from the North Atlantic. Diversity, 14(5), 358.

Franziska Iwan
Technische Assistentin