Hydroides is a large and diverse group of calcareous tubeworms (Serpulidae, Annelida) recognised by a distinctive but variable two-tiered operculum. Despite considerable research using several species of Hydroides as models in ecological and biofouling studies, phylogenetic and biogeographic relationships within the genus are still poorly understood. Using combined mitochondrial (COI, cytochrome b) and nuclear (18S, 28S and ITS) gene markers for 284 individuals of 45 morphospecies of Hydroides, we investigated the global phylogenetic and biogeographic relationships within the genus. Phylogenetic topologies were well supported and indicated high genetic diversity within Hydroides, revealing potential cryptic species. Present results also include the first COI barcoding data enabling rapid and effective species identification of Hydroides on a global scale. Phylogenetic relationships within Hydroides were more concordant with geographical distributions than morphological similarity of their opercula. Molecular divergence estimates suggested the origin and subsequent diversification in the western Tethys Sea followed by a shift of the historical centre of diversity from the Indo-Mediterranean region to the central Indo-Pacific during the last 50 million years. Further studies on population genetics of species consisting of multiple lineages would provide a better understanding on the status of potential cryptic species. Furthermore, paleogeographic studies based on fossil Hydroides tubes would provide evidence to test this biogeographic hypothesis.
- Calcareous tubeworm