How did the smallest orb-weaving spiders cross the Pacific ocean?

  • by

Patu digua, the smallest known spider (0.37 mm long) on the planet belongs to the family of miniature spiders, Symphytognathidae.  The informal group of symphytognathoids comprise the families Anapidae, Mysmenidae, Symphytognathidae and Theridiosomatidae. Two recent studies indicated varying placements of these families using a few genomic loci and morphology. In this project, we will travel across different countries across the Pacific ocean and study these spiders. We will use two advanced phylogenetic methods: transcriptomes and target capture (covering the ultra-conserved elements (UCEs)) to reconstruct the phylogeny of orbicularian spiders. This study will determine the timeline of speciation events and inter-relationships between the symphytognathoid spiders, with other orb-web weaving spiders and the mode of their Trans-Pacific travel!