D. Maggioni, S. Montano, R. Arrigoni, P. Galli, S. Puce, D. Pica, M.L. Berumen
Marine Biodiversity, pp. 1-11, (2017)
Symbiosis, Zanclea, Integrative taxonomy, Cryptic species, Biodiversity, Coral reefs, Molecular nomenclature
To date, four nominal species and several other unidentified species of Zanclea hydrozoans are known to live symbiotically with scleractinians, and recent surveys reported this association also in the Red Sea. Previous molecular studies showed that each coral genus involved in this association hosts only one species or molecular clade of Zanclea, with the only exception being the genus Acropora, which hosts at least two Zanclea species. Moreover, some of the detected genetic lineages were morphologically undistinguishable in the polyp stage, suggesting the presence of cryptic species. In this study, we investigated the morphology and genetic diversity of Acropora-associated Zanclea specimens collected in previous studies in Egypt and Israel, as well as new samples collected in Saudi Arabia. Based on the current data, all the analysed samples were morphologically identical to Zanclea gallii, a species associated with Acroporacorals from the Maldives. However, molecular analyses separated the samples collected in the Red Sea from all other coral-associated hydroids. Therefore, phylogenetic reconstructions, haplotype networks, genetic distance analyses and distribution data allowed us to identify a previously unknown cryptic species of Acropora-associated hydroid, here named Zanclea galliiIIa, following a recently proposed molecular nomenclature.