Because of their variation in trunk segment numbers, centipedes (Chilopoda) have emerged as an important model system for evolutionary developmental biological ("Evo-devo") studies of segmentation. Understanding the evolutionary context of centipede segmentation demands an explicit phylogeny on which gene expression and developmental characters can be mapped. A robust tree for the Chilopoda is an ongoing research objective in Greg Edgecombe's lab at the Natural History Museum.
A collaboration with Gonzalo Giribet (Harvard University) has generated a dataset for nuclear ribosomal and mitochondrial genes that samples the major centipede lineages, and increasingly samples the diversity of Chilopoda at finer taxonomic levels. These data are analysed in combination with a large body of morphological evidence. Current work on higher-level centipede phylogeny expands the molecular coverage (both taxonomically as well as the diversity of markers sampled, increasingly from transcriptomes) and adds novel morphological data.