• Deep sea;
  • Håkon Mosby mud volcano;
  • Halomonhystera ;
  • population genetics;
  • cryptic species


The deep sea has a high biodiversity and a characteristic bathyal fauna. Earlier evidence suggested that at least some shallow-water species invaded the ecosystem followed by radiation leading to endemic deep-sea lineages with a genetic and/or morphological similarity to their shallow-water counterparts. The nematode Halomonhystera disjuncta has been reported from shallow-water habitats and the deep sea [Håkon Mosby mud volcano (HMMV)], but the morphological features and the phylogenetic relationships between deep-sea and shallow-water representatives remain largely unknown. Furthermore, nothing is known about the genetic structure of the H. disjuncta population within the HMMV. This study is the first integrative approach in which the morphological and phylogenetic relationships between a deep-sea and shallow-water free-living nematode species are investigated. To elucidate the phylogenetic relationships, we analysed the mitochondrial gene Cytochrome oxidase c subunit I (COI) and three nuclear ribosomal genes (Internal Transcribed Spacer region, 18S and the D2D3 region of 28S). Our results show that deep-sea nematodes comprise an endemic lineage compared to the shallow-water representatives with different morphometric features. COI genetic divergence between the deep-sea and shallow-water specimens ranges between 19.1% and 25.2%. Taking these findings into account, we conclude that the deep-sea form is a new species. amova revealed no genetic structure across the HMMV, suggesting that nematodes are able to disperse efficiently in the mud volcano.