MOLECULAR CHARACTERISATION OF ROCKY-SHORE ZOANTHUS SPECIES (ANTHOZOA: HEXACORALLIA) ON THE KWAZULU-NATAL COAST, SOUTH AFRICA
Michelle Risi and Angus Macdonald
University of KwaZulu-Natal, School of Life Sciences

 

Abstract
Despite the global distribution of zoanthids and their ecological importance in marine systems, these organisms have largely been ignored in ecological surveys due to taxonomical issues. These issues are largely caused by the morphological plasticity of species and the inadvertent re-descriptions of the same species. Zoanthids cover large patches on the rocky shores of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and no molecular identification has been carried out on these organisms on the South African shoreline. Therefore the aim of this investigation was to investigate the molecular characteristics of threeZoanthus species; Zoanthus sansibaricus, Z. durbanensis and Z. natalensis, and to determine if they are three separate species, or if Z. durbanensis and Z. natalensis were different morphotypes of Z. sansibaricus. The molecular markers used were 16S mitochondrial DNA and the internally transcribed spacer region of ribosomal DNA. The 16S sequences were very conservative and therefore had to be supplemented with ITS r-DNA data. The 16S tree showed that the Zoanthus genus did not form an isolated clade and therefore showed paraphyly in the genus. It is a possibility that Z. vietnamensis and Z. kuroshio could be synonyms of Z. durbanensis and Z. natalensis respectively. Further study needs to include in-depth morphological descriptions of these species and compare them with those made for Z. kuroshio and Z. vietnamensis elsewhere.

 

Presentation Topic
MOLECULAR CHARACTERISATION OF ROCKY-SHORE ZOANTHUS SPECIES (ANTHOZOA: HEXACORALLIA) ON THE KWAZULU-NATAL COAST, SOUTH AFRICA
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Email Michelle Risi