Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 45, Issue 4, pp 769–780 | Cite as

Identification of five species of Dendrodoris (Mollusca: Nudibranchia) from Japan, using DNA barcode and larval characters

Original Paper


Species of the genus Dendrodoris are defined as “radula-less” dorids (Nudibranchia: Doridina: Porostomata: Dendrodorididae). These sea slugs are colorful nudibranchs distributed across the world’s oceans. Because of color variations and anatomical similarities, species discrimination has been disputed in several Dendrodoris species. We determined the partial mitochondrial COI gene sequences and 18S rRNA gene sequences of five Dendrodoris species (D. arborescens, D. denisoni, D. guttata, D. nigra, and D. rubra) and Doriopsilla miniata in Japan to clarify the species identity of each dendrodorid species. We examined a total of 50 specimens from the intertidal zone at 10 sites in four regions along the Pacific coast of Japan. Partial COI gene sequences significantly differed among the six species. Although six partial 18S rRNA gene sequences were obtained for the six species, sequences differed little among species and did not clarify details of the Dendrodoris phylogeny. We also described the morphological features of veliger larvae of three Dendrodoris species. (D. arborescens, D. guttata, and D. rubra) The veligers of D. arborescens had a brown-pigmented, cup-shaped shell, and its foot was not retracted into the shell. In contrast, the veligers of D. guttata and D. rubra had a transparent, coiled shell with an operculum. Mean shell lengths of D. arborescens, D. rubra, and D. guttata were 171.5 ± 8.0, 172.8 ± 4.9, and 222.3 ± 15.2 μm, respectively. The present molecular analysis and larval characteristics indicated that each of the six species is a distinct species.


18S rRNA COI DNA barcode Sea slug Veliger larva 



We thank Dr. Masami Obuchi (Biological Institute of Kuroshio, Kochi), Dr. Gen Hamanaka (Marine and Coastal Research Center, Ochanomizu University), Dr. Ryota Suwa (Seto Marine Biological Laboratory, Kyoto University), Dr. Hiroyuki Tachikawa (Natural History Museum and Institute, Chiba), Dr. Yusuke Yamana (Wakayama Prefectural Museum of Natural History), and Dr. Kensuke Yanagi (Coastal Branch of Natural History Museum and Institute, Chiba) for providing the specimens used in this study. This study was performed as a project of the Educational Cooperative-utilization Site by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology in Japan, and partly supported by the Nippon Foundation and the International Research Hub Project for Climate Change and Coral Reef/Island Dynamics from University of the Ryukyus.

Supplementary material

12526_2014_288_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (59 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 58 kb)


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marine and Coastal Research CenterOchanomizu UniversityTateyamaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry, Biology, and Marine Science, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of the RyukyusNishiharaJapan

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