The Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change
is a research museum of the Leibniz Association
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Glomerida,the so-called 'Pill Millipedes', are a basal millipede order of the subclass Pentazonia. Pill millipedes are currently comprised of more than 270 species placed into 34 genera and are used extensively as a model organism for the study of arthropod development. The order has a holarctic distribution; most genera are found in Europe but additional representatives are present in North America, North Africa, and parts of Asia. The higher relationships of this group and its biogeographic relationships are poorly understood. Are the three North American genera closely related to one another or not? Why is the species-richness so unevenly distributed: only three pill millipede genera with 18 species occur in America, but 23 genera (177 nominal species) are described from Europe? Are the European dwarfed forms relic relatives of Asian normal-sized genera, as currently asserted in the literature? To answer these relevant questions, this project will undertake the first rigorous phylogenetic analysis of the order Glomerida (pill millipedes) based on morphological and molecular characters. Once completed, this phylogenetic analysis will identify monophyletic units within the order, elucidate the origins of dwarf European genera and clarify the biogeographic and phylogenetic relationships of the North American taxa.