Where on the tree of life?
Dicyemida are strange-looking, very simple little parasites found in cephalopods – like octopuses, squid and cuttlefish – and scientists have long debated their classification since they were first discovered. Now, a research team from Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), Japan, believe they have cracked it – unlike previous studies, they used modern sequencing technology to focus on the oddball parasite’s amino acids, rather than its DNA. In the end, the researchers determined that Dicyemida belong in the Spiralia group, with their closest relatives being another kind of marine parasite called Orthonectida. This placement means that researchers may be able to track back over the parasite’s evolutionary history, and perhaps that of Spiralia as well.