Research Article

Marine Biology

, Volume 144, Issue 2, pp 253-261

First online:

Mitochondrial DNA sequence variation in deep-sea bamboo coral (Keratoisidinae) species in the southwest and northwest Pacific Ocean

  • P. J. SmithAffiliated withNational Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd. Email author 
  • , S. M. McVeaghAffiliated withNational Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd.
  • , J. T. MingoiaAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, College of Charleston
  • , S. C. FranceAffiliated withGrice Marine Laboratory, College of Charleston

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The Keratoisidinae are a poorly known, but phenotypically diverse group of deepwater corals. Recent developments in deepwater trawling in the southwest Pacific have provided many more specimens of bamboo corals. Two sub-regions of the mitochondrial genome were sequenced to test genetic relationships among specimens collected over a wide geographical range (27–50° S): a sub-region of the large-subunit rRNA (16S rRNA), characterized by a highly variable insertion/deletion (INDEL#2) region; and a non-coding region between COII and COI. Based on DNA haplotypes, 14 species of Keratoisidinae were recognized among 88 specimens from deep water in the southwest Pacific Ocean. The common haplotypes also appeared in specimens collected in the northwest Pacific Ocean and may indicate that some bamboo coral species are widespread in the Pacific, or that the mitochondrial markers are insensitive to recent speciation events. Many specimens were taken from flat bottom areas and, contrary to assumptions, the bamboo corals are not endemic to seamounts. The closure of some seamounts to trawling will protect bamboo corals from extinction, but not from local depletion.