The evolution of anural larvae in molgulid ascidians

Jennifer L. Huber, Karen Burke Da Silva, William R. Bates, Billie J. Swalla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Ascidians are urochordates, marine invertebrates with non-feeding motile chordate tadpole larvae, except in the family Molgulidae. Urodele, or tailed, Molgulids have typical ascidian chordate tadpole larvae possessing tails with muscle cells, a notochord, and a dorsal hollow nerve cord. In contrast, anural (or tail-less) Molgulids lack a tail and defining chordate features. Molecular phylogenies generated with 18S and 28S ribosomal sequences indicate that Molgulid species fall into at least four distinct clades, three of which have multiple anural members. This refined and expanded phylogeny allows careful examination of the factors that may have influenced the evolution of tail-less ascidians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-426
Number of pages8
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Ascidian
  • Biogeography
  • Evolution
  • Larva
  • Molgula


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