Terebellomorpha is a clade of predominantly tube-dwelling polychaetes, some of whose species are very abundant and whose habitats range from shallow to very deep waters. The group contains five families (Terebellidae, Ampharetidae, Pectinariidae, Trichobranchidae and Alvinellidae). This study of their inter-relationships uses DNA sequence data from five gene segments. Including outgroups, sequences were available for 15 species for 15 U2 snRNA, 14 for Histone H3, 23 for the D1 expansion region of 28S rDNA, 15 for the D9-10 region of 28S rDNA and 17 for subunit I of cytochrome oxidase. Outgroups included representatives of the polychaete families Cirratulidae, Sabellidae and Siboglinidae, and the clitellate Lumbricus. These sequences include eight GenBank entries for 28S D1 and one for CO1.
Generally, and in all analyses restricted to the data collected in this laboratory, but including all of these, Terebellomorpha is monophyletic. Within Terebellomorpha, the single maximum parsimony tree indicates that Alvinellidae (all data from GenBank) belongs to a clade with Terebellidae and some Trichobranchidae, contradicting morphological expectations. Terebellidae is paraphyletic with respect to Trichobranchus, this being associated with the subfamily Thelepodinae. The second trichobranchid genus Terebellides (for which only 28S D1 data is available from GenBank) is topologically very distinct to Trichobranchus. Additional data are needed to establish the family's monophyly. Also within Terebellidae, subfamily Terebellinae is paraphyletic with respect to Polycirrinae, supporting the suggestion that this subfamily's morphological simplicity is derived.