Dr. Michael Eitel
PostDoctoral Research Fellow
The Swire Institute of Marine Science
Faculty of Science
School of Biological Sciences
The University of Hong Kong
Cape d’Aguilar Road, Shek O
Phone: +852-2809 2179
Fax: +852-2809 2197
Associate Editor World Placozoa Database
Placozoa are the simplest organized multicellular animals. Their position in the animal kingdom is near or at the very base as recent research in our group was able to show (Schierwater et al., in review at PlosBiol). Quite much is known about the placozoan ultra structure from early work of German scientist in the 1970ies (see Syed & Schierwater, 2002 for references at publications on this homepage), but despite of over a hundred year of research only little is known about the biodiversity within this phylum. In a pilot project Voigt et al. (2004) were able to show, that the Placozoa consists of several, molecularly very different lineages that might be species, genera or even higher order taxonomic units.
In my research I attempt to bring more light in the hitherto unknown phylogenetic structure within the phylum by worldwide sampling for placozoan specimens. Identified placozoans are transferred to our laboratory in Hannover and clonally cultures are established. By means of molecular sequencing of mitochondrial and nuclear markers and morphological characterization I try to identify the specimen affiliation to known lineages or define new, undescribed strains. On the course of my sampling progress I already found four new placozoan lineages distributed among known and new clades from various geographic regions (see figure).
From Eitel & Schierwater, 2010. Molecular Ecology 19: 23152327.