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Sipuncula / Echiura Online Newsletter #2

Edward Cutler ebcutler at earthlink.net
Mon Jun 2 20:50:19 EST 2003

Sipuncula / Echiura Online Newsletter #2		June 2003

Compiled by E. B. Cutler

During the year since our last (first) edition of this very informal attempt to
remain connected, events have occurred in the Middle East that have been
distressing to many of us, but I shall try to not express my personal feelings
on that matter in this context.

One matter that I can openly express my sadness about is the death of our
Brazilian colleague, Sergio Ditadi on September 7, 2002 from complications
following cardiac surgery. I have fond memories of Sergio at our meetings in
Kotor and it is most fortunate that some of his interests and understandings
will continue via his intellectual descendants in Brazil.

Corrections to Issue 1
Age: Peter G. was not 65, he is just now turning 64 & Eduardo T. is still in his
50’s – my apologies. Titles: I mistakenly gave Teruaki N. a promotion – he is
not the Director of the University Museum.

Sneak Preview 
While I am constrained by the authors’ request, you will soon be seeing an 
important contribution in which very credible FOSSIL Sipuncula are 
described from the lower Cambrian in China.  Once a journal accepts the 
manuscript you will hear more.  

One personal highlight for me during this past year was the ‘Barbados
Expedition’.  Last June 7 of us (J. I. Saiz-Salinas, A. Schulze, G. Yukimi
Kawauchi, T. Nishikawa, M. Nohara, myself and my wife/team driver/provider
of sustenance & good cheer, Anne Covert) spent eight days at the Bellairs
Research Institute of McGill University near Holetown.  I think we all
learned something and I know we all had a good time getting to know one
another (eating flying fish and testing the local sugar by-products).

A report on our work was submitted to a journal last fall, but their review 
process is taking a long time.  Here is the core: We collected 251 specimens 
that represented 11 species from 7 genera. Eight of the species had been 
previously reported from Barbados, most being recovered from holes bored 
in hard substrata.  The three that are reported for the first time from 
Barbados all live in unconsolidated sediments. Two of these, Nephasoma 
pellucidum and Siphonosoma cumanense, are broadly distributed throughout 
the Caribbean and other parts of the world, thus it is not surprising to find 
them here.  The third one was a surprise - Siphonosoma vastum (Selenka 
and Bülow, 1883) which has never been recorded from anywhere in the 
Atlantic/Caribbean.  One can only speculate about this being a recent 
invasion or simply one of those taxa previously overlooked because most 
attention has been given to those living in coral/rock and less to those in 

I shall follow the same geographical content format I used last time.

Europe / British Isles
 José I. Saiz Salinas field work took him from sunny Barbados to the 
Antarctic where he spent six weeks in Jan/Feb. on board the 'Hesperides' 
collecting benthic invertebrates as part of the expedition 'Bentart03'. He 
periodically provides assistance to non-specialists with the identification of 
these worms and will be traveling to Brazil in December to continue the 
mentoring of Gisele that was begun last June. He is also one of the four 
authors on the fossil paper mentioned above. His teaching and involvement 
in Spanish marine ecology projects keeps him busy.  

Peter Gibbs reaffirms his retired status and:
“I do not have any news regarding Sipuncula research. I still get sent bits and
pieces for identification - this 'keeps my hand in' and helps to delay senile
dementia. Otherwise I have much data relating to the gender bending of
gastropods by the antifouling agent TBT to get published but writing becomes
harder as the days get longer and outdoors beckons!”

Jorgen Hylleberg hosted Anne and me for a few days last September in 
Arhus. During the visit he shared his set of excellent drawings of the 
sipunculans collected near the marine lab in Phuket, Thailand. It is hoped 
that when he completes his opus magnum on the bivalve genus Cardium he 
might be motivated to prepare a paper on this fauna. Shortly after our 
departure he was knighted by the Queen of Denmark for his work in 
Thailand, but he tells me that “Sir Jorgen” is Not used in their culture.  

Rene Hessling     *new email:  r.hessling at zeiss.de 
Rene has been employed by Zeiss microscopes in their Training, Application 
and Support Center since completing his PhD (new address below).  His 
most recent news is: “..my wife (and I) had a baby two weeks ago! We are 
now parents of a beautiful and healthy baby boy, Mattis Wilhelm Hessling! 
Things have been extremly exciting, as you can imagine. It is truely amazing, 
how such a small human being can take full control of your life! We are now 
fully occupied adapting to the new situation (and enjoying every minute of 

Galena (Vantsetti) Murina tells me that she has returned back from the Faroe 
Islands where she took part in a Symposium. “My report  ‘Biogeography of 
the Sipuncula of the Faroe Islands within the North Atlantic’ was presented 
25 April. Many scientists from diverse countries (Norway, Denmark, England, 
France, USA, Iceland, Thailand and so on) took part in Symposium. My 
colleague and co-author Jan Sorensen is very nice and well-wishing person. 
Last day on 28 April he invited us to go for the interesting excursion by his 
car along two islands Streymoy and Eusturoy. We visited the remarkable 
Kaldbak Marine Laboratory where he is director.” She has also assisted two 
German colleagues: Dieter Fiege, Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg who has 
an interest in the papers of the phylum Sipuncula in the eastern 
Mediterranean and Dr. Bernhard Ruthensteiner, Zoologische 
Staatssammlung Muenchen who has an interest in the phylum Echiura, 
particularly from the Mediterranean.  

Taras B. Morozov - Neither Murina nor I have heard from him during this past
year, but we assume that he is continuing his anatomical studies on the

 R. Biseswar writes: “I am currently identifying and describing deep-sea 
Atlantic Ocean echiurans received through the courtesy of the Chief of the 
Centre National de Tri d' Oceanographie Biologique (CENTOB, Brest), 
France. The North-East Atlantic specimens were collected during the 
BENGAL cruises between September 1996 and October 1998 in the 
Porcupine Abyssal Plain. The South-East Atlantic specimens were collected 
during the Zaiango-Biol 2 cruise off Angola during August 2000. All the 
specimens identified to date belong to the family Bonellidae and reveal one 
new genus, four new species and several new records. Three reports are 
envisaged for publication in the Bulletin du Museum National d' Histoire 
naturelle where the holotypes and paratypes will be deposited.”  

Asia / Pacific
Teruaki Nishikawa continues to invest most of his energy in the several
prochordate groups. This included field work at several locations ranging
from Australia to the Maldives and Barbados. His Echiura work reported on in
last year’s Newsletter has been published:

Nishikawa, T. 2002.  Comments on the taxonomic status of Ikeda taenioides
(Ikeda, 1904) with some amendments in the classification of the phylum
Echiura.  Zoological Science 19: 1175-1180.

 Examination of thin sections of trunk wall in an old specimen of Ikeda 
taneioides from Misaki, Sagami Bay revised previous incorrect information 
about the body wall musculature, actually consisting of outer circular, middle 
longitudinal, and inner-most oblique layers, like all other echiurans.  This 
finding, together with the reexamination of relevant museum specimens, led 
to some taxonomic changes. These include amending the definition of the 
genus Ikeda, as a senior synonym of Prashadus; the family Ikedidae was 
regarded as a junior synonym of the family Echiuridae; and the order 
Heteromyota, erected virtually for I. taenioides, was abolished. Non-discovery 
of males and some other features in the amended genus Ikeda were noted 
with reference to its possible relationship with the family Bonelliidae  

He currently is completing a paper on the echiurans:

Identity of the West-Pacific echiuran, Listriolobus sorbillans (Lampert, 1883) 
with L. riukiuensis Sato, 1939, with taxonomic notes towards a generic 
revision (Echiura: Echiuridae) Included in this work are comments on the 
individual variation in the ratio of proboscis to trunk, the number of 
longitudinal muscle bands, and the number and arrangement of gonoducts. 

We look forward to its publication.  

B. P. Haldar- I know he has assisted Nishikawa and Namboodiri in their
research efforts, but I have not heard from him in recent months.

Naveen Namboodiri continues working with the intertidal communities on the
Great Micobar and is collecting some specimens for our DNA work, but
concerned about being able to get them to us given the present regulatory

*New Contact: Dr. Sohail Barkati & Solaha Rahman (E-mail 
solaha at yahoo.com) 
These persons have made contact with me and Murina requesting copies of 
our sipunculan articles. They are researchers from the Zoology Department, 
University of Karachi, Pakistan who have found Sipunculus species from the 
coastal area of Karachi,  

South/Central America / Caribbean
 Eduardo Tarifeno writes: ”Since 1995 I am teaching Animal Physiology and 
Comparative Animal Physiology for students with Biology and Marine Biology 
majors. Most of my research has been dedicated to marine bivalve and fish 
physiology. However, I still do maintain my interest in Sipuncula and Echiura. 
In 1995 I published a review paper on the Sipuncula, Echiura and Priapula 
known from Chilean coasts where I did actualized the geographical 
distribution for Chilean coasts. Since then, I have been receiving materials 
from other Chilean zoologists that have specimens collected during recent 
years, from the southern coasts and Eastern Island. I hope soon to dedicate 
some time to look over all the material and publish a new paper on the 

Alvaro Migotto has generously agreed to serve as Gisele’s advisor/mentor
following Sergio Ditadi’s death last fall.

Gisele Yukimi Kawauchi has decided to focus her doctoral work on a 
faunistic/zoogeographical analysis of the Brazilian sipunculans that includes 
newly collected, deepwater material.  As much of this consists of those 
troublesome small Nephasoma she has invited Saiz to spend some time in 
Sao Paulo this December to share his expertise.  

*New Contact:  Carlos Manuel Varela (E-mail cvarela at cim.colombus.cu)
Another person who has requested assistance from Murina and myself in 
recent months. He is a biologist and works in Havana, Cuba at the Centro de 
Investigaciones Marinas, in the Ecology Department on the Systematics of 
Crustacea group.  

North America:
Mary Rice shares the following: “I retired as Director of the Smithsonian 
Marine Station last August to become ‘Senior Research Scientist Emeritus’, 
relieving me of administrative duties and providing the opportunity to pursue 
my research once again on sipunculans and their life histories.  I have been 
given an office and laboratory for my work here at the Marine Station where I 
plan to spend most of my time, except for summers when I will be working at 
the Friday Harbor Laboratories of the University of Washington. Long-term 
projects that have priority for completion include (1) the reproductive and 
population biology of the deep-sea sipunculan, Phascolosoma turnerae, and 
(2) the determination of adult affiliations of oceanic larvae through DNA 
sequencing. In preparation for the latter project over the last 12 years I have 
frozen over 100 samples of 9 larval forms.  Specimens from these samples, 
as well as larvae recently collected in Belize in collaboration with Anja 
Schulze, have been forwarded to the Smithsonian's Molecular Laboratory in 
Washington for DNA analyses.  Along with genetic information on sipunculan 
adults, now available through work at the Laboratories of Giribet and Cutler, 
we hope to be able to make some specific identifications of the larvae that 
will complement my previous rearing studies. For 6 weeks this past spring, I 
had the pleasure of having Anja Schulze, postdoctoral fellow with Giribet and 
Cutler at Harvard, working on various sipunculan projects in my laboratory at 
the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce.  Then, together, we spent 2 
weeks at the Smithsonian's field station at Carrie-Bow Cay, Belize, 
immersed in sipunculan studies, including collection of adults for further 
phylogenetic and systematic studies and the collection of planktonic larvae.  
Stay tuned to hear more about the results of these efforts in the future. As 
time allows, I continue to work on my collection of sipunculans from Florida 
and the Caribbean, with the goal of producing an illustrated survey and guide 
to the phylum in these subtropical and tropical regions.  

Edward Cutler: As noted elsewhere the trip to Barbados last summer was 
my one field trip and most of my contributions have been made in 
collaboration with others, including my past and future co-author Harlan 
Dean. One of the more satisfying efforts has been working with Anja Schulze 
to introduce her to the wonders of the Sipuncula.  This included attending the 
following symposium: “Morphology, Molecules, Evolution & Phylogeny in the 
Polychaeta & Related Taxa” at the end of last September near Osnabrück, 
Germany that was organized by Günter Purschke, Univ. Osnabrück & T. 
Bartolomaeus, Univ. Bielefeld Anja, Gonzalo and I presented a paper that will 
eventually be published in the proceedings of these meetings that was both a 
review and some new data on the morphology and molecules of the group. 
One area of growth for me has been delving into the world of molecular 
phylogeny with the patient assistance of Gonzalo Giribet. Two of his students 
have published the first contribution along these lines in:  

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 27 (2003) 489–503

Evolutionary relationships within the protostome phylum Sipuncula: a
molecular analysis of ribosomal genes and histone H3 sequence data

Amy B. Maxmen, Burnett F. King, Edward B. Cutler, and Gonzalo Giribet


The phylogenetic relationships of the members of the phylum Sipuncula are 
investigated by means of DNA sequence data from three nuclear markers, 
two ribosomal genes (18S rRNA and the D3 expansion fragment of 28S 
rRNA), and one protein-coding gene, histone H3. Phylogenetic analysis via 
direct optimization of DNA sequence data using parsimony as optimality 
criterion is executed for 12 combinations of parameter sets accounting for 
different indel costs and transversion/transition cost ratios in a sensitivity 
analysis framework. Alternative outgroup analyses are also performed to test 
whether they affected rooting of the sipunculan topology. Nodal support is 
measured by parsimony jackknifing and Bremer support values. Results 
from the different partitions are highly congruent, and the combined analysis 
for the parameter set that minimizes overall incongruence supports 
monophyly of Sipuncula, but nonmonophyly of several higher taxa 
recognized for the phylum. Mostly responsible for this is the split of the family 
Sipunculidae in three main lineages, with the genus Sipunculus being the 
sister group to the remaining sipunculans, the genus Phascolopsis nesting 
within the Golfingiiformes, and the genus Siphonosoma being associated to 
the Phascolosomatidea. Other interesting results are the position of 
Phascolion within Golfingiidae and the position of Antillesoma within 
Aspidosiphonidae. These results are not affected by the loci selected or by 
the outgroup chosen. The position of Apionsoma is discussed, although 
more data would be needed to better ascertain its phylogenetic affinities. 
Monophyly of the genera with multiple representatives (Themiste, 
Aspidosiphon and Phascolosoma) is well supported, but not the monophyly 
of the genera Nephasoma or Golfingia. Interesting phylogeographic questions 
arise from analysis of multiple representatives of a few species. “ *A PDF 
version of the entire text is available on request.  

The monotypic genus Phascolopsis in both the above study and in Joe 
Staton’ s report (see below) seems to have been placed by E.B.C. in the 
wrong family several years ago, and its return to the ‘proper’ family will be 
addressed in the near future. The echiuran genus Urechis has not been 
forgotten, only set aside awaiting more data from the lab. I continue to 
upgrade my databases that I have built over the past few decades and hope 
to make these more generally available as Excel files in the near future. One 
of these lists all the Sipuncula ever named with author, date, location of the 
type material, its condition, current name & status – as complete as I can 
make it. I continue to respond to requests for assistance and continue to ask 
for assistance – in obtaining fresh material that has been preserved in 
absolute alcohol to expand our DNA library.  The warm, shallow water 
genera Siphonomecus and Xenosiphon continue to elude us, as does the 
deep/cold water genus Onchnesoma. The lack of deep-water taxa in general 
is very frustrating, but we continue to seek opportunities for Anja to join 
expeditions where she might obtain fresh specimens.  

Anja Schulze writes: “In the past year, I have collected sipunculans in 
Barbados (Ed already reported on this expedition) and in Florida and Belize 
(see Mary Rice’s contribution).  Some of these specimens will be/are being 
used for molecular phylogeny.  I am trying to add as many sipunculan 
species as possible to our molecular database.  Together with Ed, I am also 
working on a more extensive morphological dataset that will be combined 
with the molecular data. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to work 
with Mary Rice at the Smithsonian Marine Station in Florida this spring. Down 
there, I mainly studied muscle development in four sipunculan species, using 
fluorescent stains and confocal laser scanning microscopy.” She is also 
assembling a nice set of digital photographs of living material as well as 
working with the SEM and TEM to address some of our questions. This 
month she will join a Woods Hole cruise to obtain some deep water 
specimens and in the fall she will be making a collecting trip to Tahiti and 
New Caledonia.  

*New this time - Joseph Staton: A few years ago Joe spent time at Harvard
completing his lab work on a project that has now reached the ‘in press’
phase.  The following article will be published this fall:

Staton JL. 2003. Phylogenetic analysis of a 654-bp portion of the 
mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene from 13 sipunculan 
genera: intra-and interphylum relationships. Invertebrate Biology.  

Sipunculans are non-segmented, marine worms that comprise a separate 
metazoan phylum. Although they are well characterized morphologically, 
relationships within the phylum and the relationship of the Sipuncula to other 
spiralian phyla have been strongly debated. I analyzed representatives of 13 
of 17 described genera using a 654-bp fragment of the mitochondrial gene, 
cytochrome c oxidase subunit I, to construct the first intraphylum 
phylogenetic hypothesis for sipunculans based on DNA sequence. Within the 
phylum, tree topologies support a previously published morphological 
analysis, except that the monotypic genus Phascolopsis occurred within the 
Golfingiaformes as a sister group to, or nested within, the Themistidae. 
Phylogenetic analyses, including 30 sequences from additional invertebrate 
taxa, suggest that sipunculans are most closely related to the Annelida 
(including Echiura). A previously proposed sipunculan-molluscan relationship 
is not supported. While not universally accepted, this hypothesis is 
consistent with other recent and past data on phylum-level relationships.  

While at Harvard Joe also made detailed observations on many of the 
Echiura genera with the hope of somehow re-evaluating these somewhat 
ambiguous entities some based on very weak foundations, and their higher 
level relationships. He has encountered a number of obstacles and the effort 
is ongoing.  


Contact Information – alphabetically arranged

R. Biseswar				E-mail: gkmood at pixie.udw.ac.za
G.K.Moodley,  School of Life & Environ. Sci.
Faculty Science & Engineering
University of Durban-Westville
Private Bag X54001
Durban, 4000, SOUTH AFRICA
Fax: +27 31 204-4790

Edward Cutler				E-mail: ebcutler at earthlink.net
Department of Invertebrate Zoology
Museum of Comparative Zoology
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Phone: 617-738-0107

Peter Gibbs  			E-mail: peg at pml.ac.uk
Marine Biological Association
Citadel Hill
Plymouth Devon PL1 2PB, ENGLAND

B. P. Haldar
6A, Ganga Ram Paul Road
Naihati-743 165,
24-Paragonas (North)
West Bengal, INDIA

Dr. René Hessling		E-mail: r.hessling at zeiss.de
Carl Zeiss Göttingen
Königsallee 9-21
37081 Göttingen, GERMANY
Fax: 	++49-551-5060-466
Office: ++49-551-5060-612

Jorgen Hylleberg  		E-mail: hylleberg at biology.aau.dk
Dept. of Biological Sciences
Marine Ecology,
Finlandsgade 14
8200 Århus N, DENMARK
Fax: 	+45 8942 4387
Phone: +45 8942 4382.

Alvaro Migotto		E-mail: aemigott at usp.br
Centro de Biologia Marinha
Universidade de São Paulo
Caixa Postal 83
11600-970 - São Sebastião, SP, BRAZIL

Taras B. Morozov   		E-mail: tmorozov at mail.ru
Postgraduate at Zoological Department in Far Eastern State University,
25 Oktyabrskaya Str.
690060 Vladivostok, RUSSIA

Galena (Vantsetti ) Murina	E-mail: murina at ibss.iuf.net
IBSS Institute  of  the  Southern  Seas
2 Nakhimov Ave.
Sevastopol 335011, UKRAINE
Naveen Namboodiri,		E-mail: naveen_cas at yahoo.co.in
Research Fellow
C.A.S in Marine Biology
Annamalai University
Parangipettai 608 502
Tamil Nadu, INDIA

Teruaki Nishikawa		E-mail: teruaki at info.human.nagoya?u.ac.jp
The Nagoya University Museum (NUM)
Nagoya 464?8601, JAPAN
Fax:	81-52-789-4270
Tel: 	81-52-789-4856

Mary Rice			E-mail: rice at sms.si.edu
Smithsonian Marine Station
701 Seaway drive
Ft. Pierce, FL, 34949
Phone: 772-465-6630 ext. 142

José I. Saiz Salinas		E-mail: zopsasaj at lg.ehu.es
Dpto. de Zoología y DCA
Univ. País Vasco
E-48080 Bilbao
Apdo. 644, SPAIN
Fax: 	+34-944.648.500
Tel: 	+34-946.012.713

Anja Schulze			E-mail: aschulze at oeb.harvard.edu
Department of Invertebrate Zoology
Museum of Comparative Zoology
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Telephone: 617-495-2447

Joseph L. Staton		E-mail: jstaton at sc.edu
Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Science
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208, USA
Fax: 	803-777-3935
Phone: 803-777-3941

After 31 July 2003: Assistant Professor of Biology
University of South Carolina
801 Carteret Street
Beaufort, SC  29902, USA
Eduardo Tarifeno		E-mail: etarifen at udec.cl
Depart. de Zoología
U. de Concepción
Casilla 160-C
Concepcion, CHILE
Fax:	41-238982
Phone:	41-204152

Gisele Yukimi Kawauchi 	E-mail: ykawauch at usp.br
Departemento de Zoologia
Universidade de São Paulo
Caixa Postal: 11461, 05422-970
São Paulo – SP, BRAZIL
Fax: 	55 (0) 11 3091-7513
Phone:	3091-7802

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