Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Animals That Seem Identical May Be Completely Different Species

Date:
April 24, 2009
Source:
University of Gothenburg
Summary:
Animals that seem identical may belong to completely different species. This is the conclusion of researchers in Sweden who have used DNA analyses to discover that one of our most common segmented worms is actually two types of worm. The result is one of many suggesting that the variety of species on Earth could be considerably larger than we thought.

Lumbriculus variegatus worm.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Gothenburg

Animals that seem identical may belong to completely different species. This is the conclusion of researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, who have used DNA analyses to discover that one of our most common segmented worms is actually two types of worm.

Related Articles


The result is one of many suggesting that the variety of species on Earth could be considerably larger than we thought.

"We could be talking about a large number of species that have existed undiscovered because they resemble other known species," says Professor Christer Erséus.

The segmented worms that were studied by Christer Erséus, doctoral student Daniel Gustavsson and their American colleague, are identical in appearance. From the very first time that they were described, they have been treated as the same species, and they are also found together in freshwater environments in North America, Sweden and the rest of Europe.

But when the researchers examined the worms using advanced methods for DNA analysis, they discovered that they were in fact two different species. Both species of worm differ in one of the examined genes by 17 percent, which is twice as much as the equivalent difference between humans and chimpanzees.

The research results, which are being published in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, could have major consequences. For example, the worms are frequently used for laboratory testing around the world, to examine the effects of environmental toxins.

"Different species have different characteristics. If it emerged that these two species differ in terms of their tolerance towards certain toxins, then it could be difficult to make comparisons between different studies," says Christer Erséus.

And as this advanced DNA technology is tested increasingly within various animal groups, it could, according to Christer Erséus, mean that our perception of the earth's biodiversity may need to be revised.

"There could be ten times as many species in total, compared with what we previously thought," he says.

The new species of worm has not yet been given a name, since researchers have not yet decided which of the two will keep the old name, Lumbriculus variegatus.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Gothenburg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel R. Gustafsson, David A. Price, Christer Erséus. Genetic variation in the popular lab worm Lumbriculus variegatus (Annelida: Clitellata: Lumbriculidae) reveals cryptic speciation. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 2009; 51 (2): 182 DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2008.12.016

Cite This Page:

University of Gothenburg. "Animals That Seem Identical May Be Completely Different Species." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090422121858.htm>.
University of Gothenburg. (2009, April 24). Animals That Seem Identical May Be Completely Different Species. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090422121858.htm
University of Gothenburg. "Animals That Seem Identical May Be Completely Different Species." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090422121858.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) — A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins