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Logotyp för Naturhistoriska riksmuseet

Living members of the major lineages of the Neogastropoda

Phylogeny and Evolution of the Neogastropoda

The Tree of life is one of the most ambitious and compelling projects in the life sciences: it strives to disentangle patterns of relatedness among living things – i.e. to resolve their phylogeny. While studies on some animal lineages, especially those attracting broad public attention, like birds and mammals, are well on their way, other groups are often neglected, despite their abundance, ecological and economic significance. In this project we address the phylogeny of a charismatic and species rich lineage of marine snails, the order Neogastropoda.

Forskningsområden: Zoologi

Forskningsämnen: Fylogeni, Sekvensering och genomforskning

Project overview

Project period: 2017 - 2027

Participating departments from the museum: Department of Zoology, Department of Palaeobiology

The order Neogastropoda, with over 15,000 named species, and still a great number of undescribed ones by far outnumbers such iconic groups of animals as birds or mammals. Being a relatively young taxon, Neogastropoda underwent explosive cladogenesis, where all main lineages of the order originated in a short time span, generating a pattern known as ‘bush in the tree of life’, challenging for phylogenetics. By achieving a comprehensive taxon and gene sampling and applying contemporary analytical techniques, we aim to disentangle relationships of these remarkable, and puzzling marine animals.

Project description

We use a combination of traditional zoological approaches, and contemporary -OMICS techniques for reconstructing relationships among the main lineages of the Neogastropoda, and exploring the evolutionary history of this highly diversified, yet still poorly known group of animals.

Because many neogastropod lineages are rare, or occur in hard-to-sample habitats, such as deep sea, we capitalize on natural history collections. To obtain genetic data from museum specimens, we apply a powerful, yet cost efficient methodology ‘targeted enrichment’ recovering thousands of genes, spanning the entire genome. Anylysis of these data is a challenging task, and we use a combination of different analytic algorithms, assisted by high-performance cluster computing systems to reconstruct relationships of our taxa. We already have a good picture of the backbone topology – i.e. the order in which main lineages branch off from the main stem of Neogastropoda.

However, we stumble upon a few recalcitrant nodes where different analyses contradict each other. Such contradictions are inherent for quickly-radiating lineages of animals and plants. By addressing them successfully, we will provide a guidance to reclassification of the Neogastropoda, and reinterpretation of its fossil record. Furthermore we contribute to the practical knowledge of how a pattern of ‘bush in the tree of life’ can be approached and solved.


Selected publications

Lemarcis T., Fedosov A.E., Kantor Yu.I., Abdelkrim J., Zaharias P., Puillandre N. 2022. Neogastropod (Mollusca, Gastropoda) phylogeny: a step forward with mitogenomes. Zoologica scripta, 51: 550-561.

Project members

External participants

  • Nicolas Puillandre, Institute of Systematics, Evolution, and Biodiversity, MNHN, Paris, FRANCE,
  • Thomas Lemarcis, Institute of Systematics, Evolution, and Biodiversity, MNHN, Paris, FRANCE,
  • Yuri Kantor, Institute of Systematics, Evolution, and Biodiversity, MNHN, Paris, FRANCE,
  • Philippe Bouchet, Institute of Systematics, Evolution, and Biodiversity, MNHN, Paris, FRANCE,
  • Mathias Harzhauser, Geological-Paleontological Department, Natural History Museum Vienna, Austria,

Project manager

Alexander Fedosov

Senior Curator



Project member

Steffen Kiel

Förste intendent


Resarch Areas: Zoology

Research Subjects: Phylogeny, Sequencing and Genome Research