Phylogenomics of the longitarsal Colossendeidae: The evolutionary history of an Antarctic sea spider radiation.
Sea spiders (Pycnogonida) constitute a group of marine benthic arthropods that has a particularly high species diversity in the Southern Ocean. The “longitarsal” group of the sea spider family Colossendeidae is especially abundant in this region. However, this group also includes some representatives from other oceans, which raises the question where the group originates from. Therefore, we here investigated the phylogeny of the group with a hybrid enrichment approach that yielded a dataset of 1607 genes and over one million base pairs. We obtained a well-resolved phylogeny of the group, which is mostly consistent with morphological data. The data support an Antarctic origin of the longitarsal Colossendeidae and multiple dispersal events to other regions, which occurred at different timescales. This scenario is consistent with evidence found in other groups of marine invertebrates and highlights the role of the Southern Ocean as a source for non-Antarctic biota, especially of the deep sea. Our results suggest an initially slow rate of diversification followed by a more rapid radiation possibly correlated with the mid-Miocene cooling of Antarctica, similar to what is found in other taxa.