, Volume 136, Issue 1, pp 29-35

Sequence divergence of mitochondrial DNA indicates cryptic biodiversity in Octopus vulgaris and supports the taxonomic distinctiveness of Octopus mimus (Cephalopoda: Octopodidae)

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DNA sequence diversity of octopods was investigated using the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase III gene (mtCOIII). DNA was obtained from ethanol- or formalin-fixed tissue of 15 specimens belonging to Octopus mimus Gould, 1852, Octopus vulgaris Cuvier, 1797 and Scaeurgus unicirrhus d'Orbigny, 1840, from coastal waters of the Mediterranean (France), the southwestern Atlantic (Brazil), the Caribbean (Costa Rica) and the southeastern/tropical Pacific (north Chile/Costa Rica). A 612 bp fragment of the mtCOIII gene was sequenced and aligned to the orthologous sequences available from northeastern Pacific Octopus species. Possible phylogenetic relationships were reconstructed. The mtCOIII gene tree revealed two main clusters, one comprised O. rubescens, O. dofleini and O. californicus, while the other included all O. vulgaris specimens, O. bimaculatus, O. bimaculoides and O. mimus. With one exception all South American haplotypes including O. bimaculatus and O. bimaculoides appeared as the sister group of the Mediterranean haplotype of O. vulgaris, indicating that most of the South American O. vulgaris specimens investigated would not belong to the recently redescribed species O. vulgaris restricted to the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic. The treatment of O. mimus as a species distinct from Mediterranean O. vulgaris is supported by a high nucleotide divergence of 12.7%. Based on the mtCOIII gene tree the existence of cryptic species among O. vulgaris-like octopods is suggested.

Received: 15 January 1999 / Accepted: 15 October 1999