Molecular phylogeny of Glossodoris (Ehrenberg, 1831) nudibranchs and related genera reveals cryptic and pseudocryptic species complexes

Shayle B. Matsuda, Terrence M. Gosliner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Chromodorid nudibranchs (Chromodorididae) are brightly coloured sea slugs that live in some of the most biodiverse and threatened coral reefs on the planet. However, the evolutionary relationships within this family have not been well understood, especially in the genus Glossodoris. Members of Glossodoris have experienced large-scale taxonomic instability over the last century and have been the subject of repeated taxonomic changes, in part due to morphological characters being the sole traditional taxonomic sources of data. Changing concepts of traditional generic boundaries based on morphology also have contributed to this instability. Despite recent advances in molecular systematics, many aspects of chromodorid taxonomy remain poorly understood, particularly at the traditional species and generic levels. In this study, 77 individuals comprising 32 previously defined species were used to build the most robust phylogenetic tree of Glossodoris and related genera using mitochondrial genes cytochrome c oxidase subunit I and 16S, and the nuclear gene 28S. Bayesian inference, maximum likelihood, and maximum parsimony analyses verify the most recent hypothesized evolutionary relationships within Glossodoris. Additionally, a pseudocryptic and cryptic species complex within Glossodoris cincta and a pseudocryptic complex within Glossodoris pallida emerged, and three new species of Doriprismatica are identified.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-56
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 28 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation: DEB 12576304 grant to Terrence Gosliner, Richard Mooi, Luis Rocha and Gary Williams to inventory the biodiversity of the Verde Island Passage and by funding from Will and Margaret Hearst. This collaborative research was with key Philippine partners including: Secretary of Agriculture Proceso J. Alcala; former Philippine Consul General Marciano Paynor and the Consular staff in San Francisco; BFAR Director Attorney Asis G. Perez; BFAR colleagues, especially Attorney Analiza Vitug, Ludivina Labe; NFRDI colleagues especially, Director Drusila Bayate and November Romena; US Embassy staff, especially Heath Bailey and Maria Theresa N. Villa; staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs; UP administrators and colleagues including UP President Alfredo Pasqual, Vice President Giselle Concepción, Dr Annette Meñez; the staff of the National Museum of the Philippines, especially, Dr Jeremy Barns, Anna Labrador and Marivene Manuel Santos. We also thank Jessie de los Reyes; Marites Pastorfide; Sol Solleza; Boy Venus; Joy Napeñas; Peri Paleracio; Alexis Principe; the staff of Atlantis Dive Resort Puerto Galera, especially Gordon Strahan, Andy Pope, Stephen Lamont, P. J Aristorenas; the staff of Lago de Oro Beach Club, Protacio Guest House; May Pagsinohin; Susan Po-Rufino; Ipat Luna; Enrique Nuñez; Jen Edrial; Anne Hazel Javier; Jay-o Castilla, Arvel Malubag; and Mary Lou Salcedo. We also thank our colleagues at the Academy and friends and families. And lastly, our sincere thanks are extended to our fellow Academy and Filipino teammates on the expeditions. All these specimens were collected under our Gratuitous Permits (GP-0077-14, GP-0085-15) from the shallow waters of the municipalities of Mabini, Tingloy, Calatagan and Puerto Galera. This is part of the joint DA-NFRDI-CAS Memorandum of Agreement for the on-going implementation of the NSF-funded biodiversity expedition in the Verde Island Passage. The specimens were collected in accordance with the terms and conditions of the gratuitous permit and under the supervision of our partners from BFAR FRQD and NFRDI. Field research in Saudi Arabia was supported by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and fieldwork in Madagascar was supported by the Wildlife Conservation Society and an expedition organized by our colleague, Philippe Bouchet of the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris. We also thank Cory Pittman for providing specimens from Hawaii and Scott Johnson for providing specimens from the Marshall Islands. We would like to thank W. B. Simison, R. Hulett, J. Hallas and G. Spicer for their help with phylogenetic analyses, A. Sellas for designing the internal 28S primers, R. Johnson for the use of DNA extractions, and the three anonymous reviewers for their feedback.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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