, Volume 686, Issue 1, pp 91–105 | Cite as

Molecular phylogenetics of the genus Physalia (Cnidaria: Siphonophora) in New Zealand coastal waters reveals cryptic diversity

Primary Research Paper


Physalia is a genus of pelagic colonial hydrozoans often known by common names such as ‘Portuguese-man-of-war’ or ‘bluebottle’. Siphonophore systematists generally recognise only a single species in this genus, Physalia physalis, however the name Physalia utriculus is also still in common use, which has led to considerable taxonomic confusion. With some morphological variation between global regions there is the possibility that this genus holds a substantial amount of cryptic variation. We seek to examine the genetic structure of Physalia present in New Zealand coastal waters. Fifty-four specimens collected from 13 locations around New Zealand and Australia were sequenced for both mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) and the first internal transcribed spacer (ITS1) of the nuclear ribosomal cistron. Sequences were analysed using maximum likelihood and split decomposition neighbour networks to determine conflict between clans (the unrooted analog of clades). Three clans were identified from both the COI and ITS sequences. The results are complex and clans are not consistent between the two genes. Nevertheless, it seems that there is substantial cryptic diversity amongst Physalia present in New Zealand coastal waters.


Cnidaria Siphonophora DNA barcoding Integrated taxonomy Physalia physalis Neighbour networks 

Supplementary material

10750_2011_994_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (68 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 68 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Faculty of Agriculture and Life SciencesLincoln UniversityCanterburyNew Zealand

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