The Struck Lab














2017 / 08/ 17


After field work all are back in Oslo now

We had a quite successful season this year (especially Jose). Collection of Stygocapitella around the Northern hemisphere has been successfully finished. The last trip this year is going to the Red Sea for Asmaa's project.

2017 / 03/ 27


Spiralian phylogeny remains a tough nut to crack

The phylogenetic relationships within Spiralia and Lophotrochozia remains one of the major challenges in animal evolution. Please see our new publication in Systematic Biology (Kocot et al.)

2016 / 05/ 15


Asmaa arrived from Egypt visiting my lab for two years

Asmaa is finishing her PhD thesis and got a fellowship from the Egyptian government to conduct her research in my lab on polychaetes from Egypt. Welcome Asmaa and a good start in Oslo.

2015 / 12/ 01


Jose started his PhD position today

Welcome Jose as the first member of the Struck lab in Oslo. Jose will work on the species complex of Stygocapitella subterranea using phylogeographic and population genomic approaches.

2015 / 09 / 04


New position started at the Natural History Museum of UiO

At the 1st I started as a Professor of Evolutionary Genomics at the University of Oslo. I am now also Curator of the Helminth collection. Please see my new contact information below.

2015 / 07 / 23


Our analyses on interstitial annelids got published in Current Biology.

In these analyses we showed that the interstitial annelid grouped into groups. Given our results the interstitial realm was inhabited by two evolutionary trajectories.

2015 / 03 / 27


Mitochondrial genomes support monophyly of Gnathifera.

We were able to determine the first mitochondrial genomes for Gnathostomulida and Gastrotricha.

2015 / 03 / 11


First paper on fossils.

My first paper on a fossil is out in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. Thanks Joachim for getting me involved.

2014 / 08 / 26


The Heisenberg fellwoship got extended for two more years.

Good news on my own part. My fellowship was evaluated positively and I have two more years doing my research. Stay tuned.

2014 / 05 / 06


Two new phylogenomic paper are publishec in MBE.

We published two new papers addressing annelid and spiralian phylogeny, respectively, in MBE. Check them out.

2014/ 03 / 31


BaCoCa and TreSpEx manuscripts have been printed now.

Now the manuscripts discribing both programs have been printed.

2013 / 10 / 06


TreSpEx new version is released.

I have released now the version v1 of TreSpEx including a manual, example files and precompiled databases.

2013 / 10 / 06


BaCoCa new version is released.

As MPE accepted our paper on BaCoCa. We have released now the Alpha version.


2013 / 04 / 19


New paper about Diurodrilidae is out.

Congratulations to Anja for the paper published in MPE on the position of Diurodrilidae using mitochondrial genomes.


2013 / 02 / 11


Webpage is online!

Hi all, I moved my web presence to this page, so that it is more independent of my chaniging work places. It will be under construction for some time, but enjoy exploring it anyway.



Torsten H. Struck

Professor of Evolutionary Genomics

Curator of the Helmint collection

Department of Research and Collections

Natural History Museum


Postal address:

PO Box 1172 Blindern

N-0318 Oslo



Visiting address:

Room 209

Zoological Museum

Sars gate 1

0562 Oslo



phone: +47-228-51740



In our research we are interested in the origin of Bilateria as well as the origin and evolution marine invertebrates, specifically small interstitial phyly, at deep taxonomic levels. As the origin of bilaterian animals is within the marine realm these interests complement each other.

Traditionally, it had been assumed that the evolution of bilaterian animals progressed from a simple, acoelomate body organization as can be found in flatworms towards more complex forms like the segmented worms (Annelida) with a true secondary body cavity, the coelom. Due to molecular data the phylogenetic relationships of bilaterian animals had been strongly rearranged dividing Bilateria into three major groups, Deuterostomia, Ecdysozoa (the molting animals) and Spiralia (also known as Lophotrochozoa). This initiated a still ongoing debate about the evolution of Bilateria and if it was really from simple to complex or more complicated including secondary reductions. Crucial in this discussion is to investigate the evolution and phylogeny of spiralian taxa. Therefore, in our research we are generally interested in the evolution of marine invertebrate worms at all taxonomic levels, especially Annelida, Nemertea, Platyhelminthes, Gastrotricha and Gnathostomulida. Thereby we are employing phylogenomic approaches based on RNA-seq and shotgun-genome libraries. This allowed us to show in a recent study that the more simple organized spiralian taxa like rotifers and flatworms branch off first in the spiralian tree of life. Hence, our results provide further support for the hypothesis that evolution in Bilateria progressed from simple to complex several times independently.

Our research on Annelida as an example:


We were also able to improve the phylogeny of Annelida and annelid subgroups substantially in a series of different studies. Hence, we could propose a phylogeny for Annelida, which has been controversially discussed since the recognition of Annelida as a taxon in the 19th century. Annelida split into two major clades, one clade adapted to an errant mobile life and the other one including earthworms and leeches to a more sessile, sedentary one. Both groups together form the clade Pleistoannelida (clade 1 in Struck et al. 2011). Moreover, the non-segmented Sipuncula (peanut worms) and Echiura (spoon worms) have to be placed within Annelida showing that segmentation is evolutionary much more labile than previously thought. Despite these progresses regarding the position of Annelida and their phylogeny many questions remain open within the phylogeny and evolution of Annelida.


Within the intenational "WormNet II" concortium we address outstanding questions in annelid evolution at different taxonomic levels using a multi-tiered approach, which includes phylogenomic approaches based on EST libraries or complete mitochondrial genomes using high-throughput sequencing technologies. This research regarding the evolution of annelids in general as well as of subtaxa at the order or family level will accompanied by a community sequencing approach of mitochondrial markers to address outstanding questions at the genus and species level. Hence, we will gain insights into different aspects of annelid evolution within annelids, but also with respect to other lophotrochozoan taxa.

The tree of annelid relationships based on Struck et al. (2011).

Ancestral states of body and parapodial characters for (a) Annelida and Pleistoannelida, (b) Errantia, and (c) Sedentaria. The state of several parapodial characters in (a) Annelida and clade 1 is uncertain, and therefore we depicted the two most extreme possibilities. Dashed drawings or ? indicate that the state of this character is uncertain. Modified from Struck et al. (2011).