DNA barcoding reveals the coral "laboratory-rat", Stylophora pistillata encompasses multiple identities

S. Keshavmurthy, S.-Y. Yang, A. Alamaru, Y.-Y. Chuang, M. Pichon, D.O. Obura, S. Fontana, S. De Palmas, F.A. Stefani, F. Benzoni, A.H.H. Macdonald, A.M.E. Noreen, C. Chen, C.C. Wallace, R.M. Pillay, V. Denis, Affendi Amri, J.D. Reimer, T. Mezaki, C.R.C. SheppardY. Loya, A. Abelson, M.S. Mohammed, A.C. Baker, P.G. Mostafavi, B.A. Suharsono, C.A. Chen

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    Abstract

    Stylophora pistillata is a widely used coral "lab-rat" species with highly variable morphology and a broad biogeographic range (Red Sea to western central Pacific). Here we show, by analysing Cytochorme Oxidase I sequences, from 241 samples across this range, that this taxon in fact comprises four deeply divergent clades corresponding to the Pacific-Western Australia, Chagos-Madagascar-South Africa, Gulf of Aden-Zanzibar-Madagascar, and Red Sea-Persian/Arabian Gulf-Kenya. On the basis of the fossil record of Stylophora, these four clades diverged from one another 51.5-29.6 Mya, i.e., long before the closure of the Tethyan connection between the tropical Indo-West Pacific and Atlantic in the early Miocene (16-24a Mya) and should be recognised as four distinct species. These findings have implications for comparative ecological and/or physiological studies carried out using Stylophora pistillata as a model species, and highlight the fact that phenotypic plasticity, thought to be common in scleractinian corals, can mask significant genetic variation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)7pp
    JournalScientific Reports
    Volume3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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    Keshavmurthy, S., Yang, S-Y., Alamaru, A., Chuang, Y-Y., Pichon, M., Obura, D. O., ... Chen, C. A. (2013). DNA barcoding reveals the coral "laboratory-rat", Stylophora pistillata encompasses multiple identities. Scientific Reports, 3, 7pp. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep01520