, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp 555-567
Date: 14 Aug 2003

Morphological and ITS1, 5.8S, and Partial ITS2 Ribosomal DNA Sequence Distinctions Between Two Species Playtygyra (Cnidaria: Scleractinia) from Hong Kong

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Two sympatric species of Platygyra have been identified from Hong Kong waters: i.e., P. sinensis and P. pini. The former has been further subdivided into 4 morphotypes based on colony growth form as follows: classic, encrusting, hillocky, and long-valley. Taxonomic confusion raised by overlapping morphological variations and frequent sympatric occurrences, however, has posed problems in relation to Platygyra ecology and population dynamics. This study attempted to differentiate Platygyra pini and morphotypes of P. sinensis by both morphological and ITS1, 5.8S, and partial ITS2 ribosomal DNA sequence analysis. Morphological data based on 9 skeletal characters were subjected to multivariate analysis. No clear groupings were obtained using a multidimensional scaling plot. Most parsimony analysis was conducted using either the rDNA data set including ITS1, 5.8S, and partial ITS2 or the ITS1 region only. Maximum parsimony (MP) and neighbor-joining (NJ) trees obtained from both data sets, clustered samples of P. sinensis and P. pini into 2 clades. The interspecific Kimura 2-parameter sequence divergence value (k2) obtained by the former rDNA data set was 14.275 ± 0.507%, which is greater than the intraspecific values (1.239 ± 1.147% for P. sinensis and 0.469 ± 0.364% for P. pini), indicating that this marker of ITS1, 5.8S, and ITS2 contains substantially high levels of inherent diversity and is useful in resolving the problematic taxonomy of Platygyra.