Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 195–204

Molecular phylogenetic hypotheses of Zoanthus species (Anthozoa:Hexacorallia) using RNA secondary structure of the internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2)

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s12526-010-0043-2

Cite this article as:
Aguilar, C. & Reimer, J.D. Mar Biodiv (2010) 40: 195. doi:10.1007/s12526-010-0043-2


Previously, it has been found that species of the zoanthid genus Zoanthus (Cnidaria: Hexacorallia) possess high levels of intrageneric ITS-rDNA sequence variation both between congeners and also within one species, Zoanthus sansibaricus, resulting in an uncertain internal transcribed spacer of ribosomal DNA (ITS-rDNA) phylogeny for this group. For the first time, the secondary structures of the internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS 2) sequences were analyzed in an attempt to further clarify and solve relationships within Zoanthus, and also with the closely related genera Acrozoanthus and Isaurus (all in family Zoanthidae). Results show that most species’ ITS2 secondary structures follow the basic four-helix-ring model proposed for most eukaryotes including anthozoans. However, not all structures had the conserved motifs present in scleractinian corals, and Z. sansibaricus had two different structural conformations from the two different ITS2 types present. The ITS2 secondary structures of Zoanthus in this study, present a well resolved and supported phylogeny that makes it an appropriate tool for solving phylogenies in this taxonomic group. Based on ITS2 secondary structure results here, we theorize that: (1) Acrozoanthus is a valid monophyly separate from Zoanthus; (2) Z. gigantus, Z. sansibaricus, and Z. praelongus do not have any compensatory base changes (CBCs) between them and form a related clade distinct from the more divergent Z. kuroshio/Z. vietnamensis clade. The results furthermore suggest that the presence of CBCs may exist only at much lower ratios between different species in zoanthids than in other investigated organism lineages.


ITS2 secondary structures Zoanthids Zoanthus Cnidaria Evolution 

Supplementary material

12526_2010_43_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (645 kb)
ESM 1(PDF 644 kb)

Copyright information

© Senckenberg, Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Molecular Invertebrate Systematics and Ecology Laboratory, Department of Chemistry, Biology and Marine Science, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of the RyukyusOkinawaJapan
  2. 2.Molecular Invertebrate Systematics and Ecology Laboratory, Rising Star Program, Transdisciplinary Research Organization for Subtropical Island StudiesUniversity of the RyukyusOkinawaJapan
  3. 3.Marine Biodiversity Research Program, Institute of Biogeosciences, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)KanagawaJapan

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