The phylogenetic relationships of Caenorhabditis and other rhabditids.

Karin Kiontke, David H.A. Fitch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


C. elegans is a member of a group of nematodes called rhabditids, which encompasses a large number of ecologically and genetically diverse species. A new, preliminary phylogenetic analysis is presented for concatenated sequences of three nuclear genes for 48 rhabditid and diplogastrid species (including 10 Caenorhabditis species), as well as four species representing the outgroup. Although many relationships are well-resolved, more data are still needed to resolve some key relationships, particularly near the base of the rhabditid tree. There is high confidence for two major clades: (1) a clade comprising Mesorhabditis Parasitorhabditis, Pelodera, Teratorhabditis plus a few other species; (2) a large clade (Eurhabditis) comprising most of the remaining rhabditid genera, including Caenorhabditis and its sistergroup Protorhabditis-Prodontorhabditis-Diploscapter. Eurhabditis also contains the parasitic strongylids, the entomopathogenic Heterorhabditis, and the monophyletic group Oscheius which includes the satellite model organism O. tipulae. The relationships within Caenorhabditis are well resolved. The analysis also suggests that rhabditids include diplogastrids, to which the second satellite model organism Pristionchus pacificus belongs. Genetic disparity within Caenorhabditis is as great as that across vertebrates, suggesting Caenorhabditis lineages are quickly evolving, ancient, or both. The phylogenetic tree can be used to reconstruct evolutionary events within rhabditids. For instance, the reproductive mode changed multiple times from gonochorism to hermaphroditism, but only once from hermaphroditism to gonochorism. Complete retraction of the male tail tip, leading to a blunt, peloderan tail, evolved at least once. Reversions to unretracted tail tips occurred within both major rhabditid groups. The phylogeny also provides a guide to species which would be good candidates for future genome projects and comparative studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalWormBook : the online review of C. elegans biology
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'The phylogenetic relationships of Caenorhabditis and other rhabditids.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this