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Sebastian Kvist

Assistant Professor

BSc, University of Gothenburg
MSc, University of Gothenburg
PhD, Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History



I am an evolutionary biologist, interested in the forces that shape biodiversity and that drive evolution. My research focuses mainly on tackling questions regarding the diversity, phylogeny and distributions of representatives of Annelida, a rather large animal phylum with over 17,000 currently recognized species. This phylum includes representatives of three major groups – Polychaeta (bristle worms), Oligochaeta (earthworms and their relatives) and Hirudinea (leeches). Some species within the phylum are frequently used as bioindicators as their absence may suggest an unhealthy ecosystem, and others have been used for medicinal purposes for millennia. Although my research aims at understanding the full spectrum of evolutionary change within the phylum, one of my main topics of interest is the evolution of bloodfeeding in leeches as it pertains to the evolution and diversity of anticoagulation factors that are secreted into the feeding site and bacterial endosymbionts that supply the leeches with necessary nutrients, otherwise lacking form their strict hematophagous diet. I often apply a comparative approach to answering these questions and use several different strategies, from next generation sequencing and bioinformatics to alpha taxonomy and morphological studies, in order to unlock the secrets of annelid evolution and biodiversity.