Ambiguities in the taxonomic assignment and species delineation of botryllid ascidians from the Israeli Mediterranean and other coastlines

Eitan Reem, Jacob Douek, Baruch Rinkevich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Based on mtCOI sequences comparisons, recent studies reassigned the ‘dwarf Botrylloides leachii’ from the Levant as Botrylloides nigrum. Here we conducted a survey of the literature and of deposited mtCOI sequences of botryllid ascidians, elucidating ambiguities in their taxonomy. We found that the species, dwarf morph of Botrylloides leachii, Botrylloides nigrum, Botryllus aster and Botryllus arenaceus are grouped together on a single molecular taxon. Then, results of three additional markers (18S, 28S, H3) contradicted literature suggestions, revealing minute distances between Botrylloides leachii and the ‘dwarf Botrylloides leachii’. Moreover, only Botrylloides leachii and the ‘dwarf Botrylloides leachii’ develop giant ampullae as an allorecognition response. Our results raise the possibility that inadequate identification, together with faults in molecular assignment, including queries regarding the efficacy of the mtCOI as the exclusive barcoding tool in botryllid ascidians, is the major culprits responsible for the emerged inconsistencies between the mtCOI sequences and traditional taxonomy. Thus, we assign the Levantine dwarf form as Botrylloides aff. leachii.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1073-1080
Number of pages8
JournalMitochondrial DNA Part A: DNA Mapping, Sequencing, and Analysis
Volume29
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 3 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • Allorecognition
  • Botryllid ascidians
  • mtDNA
  • nuclear DNA
  • species barcoding
  • taxonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology

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