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Analysis of mtDNA variability in closely related Baikal sponge species for new barcoding marker development

  • A. S. YakhnenkoEmail author
  • V. B. Itskovich
Special Feature: Original Article Freshwater Ecosystems - Key Problems and New Findings from Russian Lakes including Lake Baikal


Morphology-based identification and classification of sponge species is complicated, because their morphological features are highly variable. Therefore, molecular markers are ideal tools for delimiting sponge species. In this study, we compared the variability of two sections of COI (the standard 5′-end fragment and the I3-M11 fragment) for closely related Baikal sponge species. Although the mean interspecific variability for both fragments was higher than the mean intraspecies divergence, these values overlapped in some cases. Based on the results of the study, we concluded that the I3-M11 fragment and the standard 5′-end fragment were not suitable when used in the canonical fashion for identifying Baikal species. However, the consistency in differences between lineages in number of non-synonymous substitutions of the two investigated COI fragments indicated that nucleotide substitutions in the I3-M11 fragment of COI are evolutionarily more informative for delimiting species. We also detected new divergent haplotypes of Baikal sponges using these markers. Seven new haplotypes in the standard 5′-end fragment of COI and 10 in the I3-M11 fragment were observed. These findings potentially indicate cryptic speciation in Baikal sponges, and further study is required to elucidate how this cryptic speciation evolved.


COI Porifera Freshwater sponge Genetics 



We thank Mallory Eckstut, PhD, from Edanz Group ( and Nathan Kenny, PhD, from Natural History Museum, for editing a draft of this manuscript.


The work was funded by Basic funding, project number 0345-2019-0002 and Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), project number 17-04-01598 (DNA sequencing) and RFBR and the Government of the Irkutsk region, project number 17-44-388103 p_a (DNA sequencing).


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Limnology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Limnological Institute SB RASIrkutskRussia

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