Invertebrate Systematics Invertebrate Systematics Society
Systematics, phylogeny and biogeography
RESEARCH ARTICLE

The first modern solitary Agariciidae (Anthozoa, Scleractinia) revealed by molecular and microstructural analysis

Marcelo V. Kitahara A G , Jaroslaw Stolarski B , Stephen D. Cairns C , Francesca Benzoni D , Joel L. Stake E and David J. Miller F

A Centro de Biologia Marinha, Universidade de São Paulo, São Sebastião, S.P. 11600-000, Brazil.

B Institute of Paleobiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Twarda 51/55, PL-00-818 Warsaw, Poland.

C Department of Invertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560, USA.

D Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, UMR227 Coreus2, 101 Promenade Roger Laroque, BP A5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia and Department of Biotechnology and Biosciences and University of Milano-Bicocca, Piazza della Scienza 2, 20126 Milan, Italy.

E Department of Biology, Rivier College, Nashua, NH 03060, USA.

F ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and Coral Genomics Group, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia.

G Corresponding author. Email: mvkitahara@yahoo.com.br

Invertebrate Systematics 26(3) 303-315 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/IS11053
Submitted: 21 December 2011  Accepted: 30 April 2012   Published: 21 September 2012

Abstract

Dactylotrochus cervicornis (= Tridacophyllia cervicornis Moseley, 1881), which occurs in Indo-Pacific waters between 73 and 852 m, was originally described as an astraeid but was later transferred to the Caryophylliidae. Assumed to be solitary, this species has no stolons and only one elongated fossa, and is unique among azooxanthellate scleractinians in often displaying extremely long thecal extensions that are septate and digitiform. Based on both molecular phylogenetic analyses (partial mitochondrial CO1 and 16S rDNA, and partial nuclear 28S rDNA) and morphological characteristics, we propose the transfer of D. cervicornis from the Caryophylliidae to the Agariciidae, making it the first extant representative of the latter family that is solitary and from deep water (azooxanthellate). The basal position of D. cervicornis within the agariciids implied by our analyses strengthens the case for inclusion of fossil species that were solitary, such as Trochoseris, in this family and suggests that the ancestor of this scleractinian family, extant members of which are predominantly colonial and zooxanthellate, may have been solitary and azooxanthellate.


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