Capitella sp. I ESC-2004


photo: Capitella teleta, by Elaine Seaver

Capitella teleta is a polychaete worm and representative of the phylum Annelida. C. teleta was formally described by Blake, Grassle and Eckelbarger (2009) and previously known as Capitella sp. I . Polychaete annelids, also known as the segmented worms, are members of the superphylum Lophotrochozoa, and C. teleta is among the first lophotrophozoans to have its genome sequenced. Capitella is a small benthic marine worm with a cosmopolitan distribution. It has many features characteristic of annelids including a segmented body plan, centralized nervous system, continued adult growth by addition of segments from a posterior growth zone, regenerative abilities, a holoblastic spiral cleavage program, and an indirect life cycle. Capitella is currently being developed as a model for evolutionary developmental studies and is one of the major protostome bio-indicators of disturbed marine habitats. As a representative lophotrochozoan, embryological and molecular genetic studies of Capitella will be pivotal for understanding evolution of a speciose and ecologically important, but understudied group of bilaterian animals. The Capitella genome sequence complements current developmental and environmental research programs and will provide opportunities to understand genome evolution and its role in body plan and life history evolution in the Metazoa.