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“He smiles a lot. But I think there might be worms inside him making him smile.”
— Stephen King [The Stand]

I've been studying worms...


My research has three major focus areas all combining traditional organismic biology, advanced morphology and bioimaging with transcriptomics and phylogenomics.

  • Chaetogenesis: I use serial TEM, immuno-histochemistry CLSM to describe the cellular mechanisms of chaetae formation in annelids while investigating the molecular underpinnings of this intricate process with transcriptomics and differential gene expression studies.

  • Phylogenomics: I use phylotranscriptomics and targeted sequence capture to uncover the evolutionary relationships of marine invertebrates (mainly annelids).

  • Integrative Taxonomy: I use a combination of advanced bioimaging techniques (e.g. µCT, serial histology, SEM) and molecular species delimitation methods to describe new taxa.




Ultrastructure, cellular and molecular mechanisms of chaetal formation in annelids.



Tilic, E.,
Bartolomaeus, T., & Seaver, E.C. (2024). Discovery and characterization of a transient chaetal gland during the development of Capitella teleta (Sedentaria: Annelida). Journal of Morphology, 285, e21742. 

Tilic, E., Miyamoto, N., Herranz, M. and Worsaae, K. (2024). Hooked on zombie worms? Genetic blueprints of bristle formation in Osedax japonicus (Annelida). EvoDevo, 15, 7 

Worsaae, K., Rouan, A., Seaver, E., Miyamoto, N., and Tilic, E. (2024) Postembryonic development and male paedomorphosis in Osedax (Siboglinidae, Annelida). Frontiers in Neuroscience, 18, 1369274.

Villalobos-Guerrero, T. F., Huč, S., Tilic, E., Hiley, A. S., and Rouse, G. W. (2024). A remarkable new deep-sea nereidid (Annelida: Nereididae) with gills. Plos one, 19(3), e0297961.

Tilic, E. and  Rouse, G.W. (2024) Hardly Venus’s servant—morphological adaptations of Veneriserva to an endoparasitic lifestyle and its phylogenetic position within Dorvilleidae (Annelida). Organisms Diversity & Evolution. 24: 67–83.


Payne, C.Y., Tilic, E., Boschen-Rose, R.E., Gannon, A., Stiller, J., Hiley, A.S., Grupe, B.M., Mah, C.L, and Rouse, G.W. (2023). Xyloplax princealberti (Asteroidea, Echinodermata): A New Species That Is Not Always Associated with Wood Falls. Diversity. 15: 1212.

Mongiardino Koch, N., Tilic, E., Miller, A.K., Stiller, J., and Rouse, G.W. (2023) Confusion will be my epitaph: Genome-scale discordance stifles phylogenetic resolution of Holothuroidea. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 290: 20230988

Sigwart, J.D., Chen, C., Tilic, E., Vences, M. and Riehl, T (2023) Why is there no service to support taxonomy?. BioEssays, e2300070.

Tilic, E., Herkenrath, T., Kirfel, G., Bartolomaeus, T. (2023) The cellular 3D printer of a marine bristle worm — Chaetogenesis in Platynereis dumerilii (Audouin & Milne Edwards, 1834) (Annelida). Cell and Tissue Research, 391, 305-322.


Sagorny, C., von Döhren, J., Rouse, G.W., and Tilic, E. (2022). Cutting the ribbon: bathyal Nemertea from seeps along the Costa Rica margin, with descriptions of 2 new genera and 9 new species. European Journal of Taxonomy, 845(1), 132–174.

Rouse, G.W., Pleijel, F. and Tilic, E. (2022) Annelida. Oxford University Press.

Müller, J., Bartolomaeus, T. and Tilic, E. (2022) Formation and degeneration of scaled capillary notochaetae in Owenia fusiformis Delle Chiaje, 1844 (Oweniidae, Annelida). Zoomorphology 141 (1), 43-56.

Tilic, E., Stiller, J., Campos, E., Pleijel, F. and Rouse, G.W. (2022) Phylogenomics resolves ambiguous relationships within Aciculata (Errantia, Annelida). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 166: 107339.

Tilic, E., Neunzig, N. and Bartolomaeus T. (2021) Hairy and iridescent chaetae of the sea mouse Aphrodita (Annelida, Errantia). Acta Zoologica. 103 (4): 1–13.


Müller, J., Schumacher, A., Borda, E., Rouse, G.W., Bartolomaeus, T. and Tilic, E. (2021) “Brittleworms”: Ultrastructure and arrangement of the calcified chaetae of Euphrosine (Amphinomida, Annelida). Invertebrate Biology. e12353. 

Beckers, P. and Tilic, E. (2021) Fine structure of the brain in Amphinomida (Annelida). Acta Zoologica. 00: 1–13.


Geisberger, S., Bartolomaeus, H., Neubert, P., Willebrand, R., Zasada, C., Bartolomaeus, T., McParland, V., Swinnen, D., Geuzens, A., Maifeld, A., Krampert, L., Vogl, M., Mähler, A., Wilck, N., Marko, L., Tilic, E., Forslund, S.K., Binger, K.J., Stegbauer, J., Dechend, R., Kleinewietfeld, M., Jantsch, J., Kempa, S., Müller, D.N. (2021) Salt transiently inhibits mitochondrial energetics in mononuclear phagocytes. Circulation.


Tilic, E., Geratz, A., Rouse, G.W. and Bartolomaeus T. (2021) Notopodial “spinning glands” of Sthenelanella (Annelida: Sigalionidae) are modified chaetal sacs. Invertebrate Biology. e12334.

Goffredi, S.K., Motooka, C., Fike, D.A., Gusmão, L.C., Tilic, E., Rouse, G.W., Rodríguez, E. (2021) Mixotrophic chemosynthesis in a deep-sea anemone from hydrothermal vents in the Pescadero Basin, Gulf of California. BMC Biology. 19: 8.

Tilic, E., and Bartolomaeus, T. (2021) Commentary on: “Unravelling the ultrastructure and mineralogical composition of fireworm stinging bristles” by Righi et al. 2020. Zoology, 144: 125890.

Tilic, E., Rouse, G.W. and Bartolomaeus, T. (2021) Comparative ultrastructure of the radiolar crown in Sabellida (Annelida). Zoomorphology. 140: 27―45.


Tilic, E., Atkinson, S. and Rouse, G.W. (2020) Mitochondrial genome of the freshwater annelid Manayunkia occidentalis (Sabellida: Fabriciidae). Mitochondrial DNA Part B, 5(3): 3313―3315.

Tilic, E., Sayyari, E., Stiller, J., Mirarab, S. and Rouse, G.W. (2020) More is needed — Thousands of loci are required to elucidate the relationships of the ‘flowers of the sea’ (Sabellida, Annelida). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 151: 106892.

Tilic, E. and Rouse G.W. (2020) Hidden in plain sight, Chaetopterus dewysee sp. nov. (Chaetopteridae, Annelida) — A new species from Southern California. European Journal of Taxonomy, 643.

Stiller, J., Tilic, E., Rousset, V., Pleijel, F. and Rouse, G.W. (2020). Spaghetti to a tree: A robust phylogeny for Terebelliformia (Annelida) based on transcriptomes, molecular and morphological data. Biology, 9: 73.

Goffredi, S.K., Tilic, E., Mullin, S.W., Dawson K.S., Keller, A., Lee, R.W., Wu, F., Levin, L.A., Rouse, G.W., Cordes, E.E. and Orphan, V.J. (2020). Methanotrophic bacterial symbionts fuel dense populations of deep-sea feather duster worms (Sabellida, Annelida) and extend the spatial influence of methane seepage. Science Advances 6: eaay8562.



Watson, C., Tilic, E. and Rouse G.W. (2019) Revision of Hyalopale (Chrysopetalidae; Phyllodocida; Annelida): an amphi-Atlantic Hyalopale bispinosa species complex and five new species from reefs of the Caribbean Sea and Indo-Pacific Oceans. Zootaxa 4671(3).

Tilic, E., Feerst, K. and Rouse, G.W. (2019) Two new species of Amphiglena (Sabellidae, Annelida), with an assessment of hidden diversity in the Mediterranean. Zootaxa 4648(2).

Tilic, E., Sermelwall, S. and Bartolomaeus, T. (2019) Formation and structure of paleae and chaetal arrangement in Chrysopetalidae (Annelida). Zoomorphology 138(2): 209―220.


Tilic, E., Pauli, B. and Bartolomaeus, T. (2017) Getting to the root of fireworms' stinging chaetae — chaetal arrangement and ultrastructure of Eurythoe complanata (Pallas, 1766) (Amphinomida). Journal of Morphology 278:865―876.​​


Tilic, E. and Bartolomaeus, T. (2016). Structure, function and cell dynamics during chaetogenesis of abdominal uncini in Sabellaria alveolata (Sabellariidae, Annelida). Zoological Letters 2:1.

Tilic, E., Bartolomaeus, T. and Rouse, G.W. (2016). Chaetal type diversity increases during evolution of Eunicida (Annelida). Organisms Diversity & Evolution 16(1): 105―119.


Tilic, E., von Döhren, J., Quast, B., Beckers, P. and Bartolomaeus, T. (2015). Phylogenetic significance of chaetal arrangement and chaetogeneis in Maldanidae (Annelida). Zoomorphology 134 (3): 383―401.

Tilic, E., Lehrke, J. and Bartolomaeus, T. (2015). Homology and evolution of the chaetae in Echiura (Annelida). PLoS ONE 10 (3): e0120002.


Tilic, E., Hausen, H. and Bartolomaeus, T. (2014). Chaetal arrangement and chaetogenesis of hooded hooks in Lumbrineris (Scoletoma) fragilis and Lumbrineris tetraura (Eunicida, Annelida). Invertebrate Biology 133 (4): 354―370.

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