Molecular diversity of benthic ctenophores (Coeloplanidae)

Ada Alamaru, Bert W. Hoeksema, Sancia E.T. Van Der Meij, Dorothée Huchon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coeloplanidae, the largest family of benthic ctenophores, comprises 33 species, all described based on traditional morphological characteristics, such as coloration, length, and number of aboral papillae, which are highly variable and can be affected by fixation methods and environmental conditions. Thus, there is a need for reliable genetic markers to complement the morphological identifications at the species level. Here, we analyzed 95 specimens from 11 morphologically distinct species of benthic ctenophores from the Red Sea and Sulu Sea, and tested selected regions of four genetic markers (ITS1, 18S rRNA, 28S rRNA and COI) for their ability to differentiate between species. We show that the barcoding region of the mitochondrial gene, cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI), is highly variable among species of Coeloplanidae, and effectively discriminates between species in this family. The average Kimura-2-parameter (K2P) distance between species-level clades was 10%, while intraspecific variation was ~30 times lower (0.36%). COI-based phylogeny supported the delineation of four recently described new species from the Red Sea. The other nuclear markers tested were found to be too conserved in order to separate between species. We conclude that COI is a potential molecular barcode for the family Coeloplanidae and suggest to test it in pelagic ctenophores.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6365
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Molecular diversity of benthic ctenophores (Coeloplanidae)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this