Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 48, Issue 4, pp 2211–2214 | Cite as

The invasive ascidian Ciona robusta recorded from a Red Sea marina

  • Noa ShenkarEmail author
  • Yaniv Shmuel
  • Dorothée Huchon
Short Communication


The solitary ascidian Ciona intestinalis is among the most damaging of invasive fouling species in the world. It is mostly known from cold-water or temperate environments, where it is able to form dense aggregations. We present the first record of C. intestinalis type-A, now recognized as C. robusta, from the Eilat marina, Israeli Red Sea coast. Several individuals found fouling the bottom of the floating docks in March 2015 were identified using both mitochondrial sequencing and morphological tools. Periodical surveys revealed some of them with full gonoducts, and small individuals appeared two months later, indicating a reproductive population. The extremely high salinity and temperature at the Eilat marina indicates the wide environmental tolerance of this species. Since the only other report from this region dates to 100 years ago, from a dredging vessel at the entrance to the Suez Canal, and it has not since been recorded from any natural substrates in the region, it should be considered a non-indigenous species in the Red Sea.


Marine bioinvasion Fouling Recreational boating Non-indigenous species 



We thank Liran Dray for his help with the DNA extraction. We deeply appreciate Prof. Nishikawa comments and advice. We are grateful to the Interuniversity Institute in Eilat and The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, National Research Center at Tel-Aviv University for assistance and support. Research funding was provided by The FP7 Marie Curie CIG (321547 to NS), by the German-Israeli Foundation (grant number I-2325-1113.13/2012 to NS), and by The Israel Science Foundation (grant number 161/15 to DH).


  1. Blum JC, Chang AL, Liljesthröm M, Schenk ME, Steinberg MK, Ruiz GM (2007) The non-native solitary ascidian Ciona intestinalis (L.) depresses species richness. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 342:5–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bouchemousse S, Bishop JDD, Viard F (2016a) Contrasting global genetic patterns in two biologically similar, widespread and invasive Ciona species (Tunicata, Ascidiacea). Sci Rep 6:24875CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bouchemousse S, Lévêque L, Dubois G, Viard F (2016b) Co-occurrence and reproductive synchrony do not ensure hybridization between an alien tunicate and its interfertile native congener. Evol Ecol 30:69–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brunetti R, Gissi C, Pennati R, Caicci F, Gasparini F, Manni L (2015) Morphological evidence that the molecularly determined Ciona intestinalis type a and type B are different species: Ciona robusta and Ciona intestinalis. J Zool Syst Evol Res 53:186–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Caputi L, Crocetta F, Toscano F, Sordino P, Cirino P (2015) Long-term demographic and reproductive trends in Ciona intestinalis sp. a. Mar Ecol 36:118–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Coles SL, Eldredge LG (2002) Nonindigenous species introductions on coral reefs: a need for information. Pac Sci 56:191–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Eldredge LG, Reaser JK (2002) Coral reefs: invaded ecosystems. In: Implications for coral reef management and policy. Relevant finds from the 9 the International Coral Reef Symposium. World Resources Institute and US Agency for International Development, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 32–34Google Scholar
  8. Fulton TM, Chunwongse J, Tanksley SD (1995) Microprep protocol for extraction of DNA from tomato and other herbaceous plants. Plant Mol Biol Rep 13:207–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gissi C, Lannelli F, Pesole G (2004) Complete mtDNA of Ciona intestinalis reveals extensive gene rearrangement and the presence of an atp8 and an extra trnM gene in ascidians. J Mol Evol 58:376–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Golani D, Bogorodsky SV (2010) The fishes of the Red Sea- reappraisal and updated checklist. Zootaxa 2463:1–135Google Scholar
  11. Goren M, Klausewitz W (1978) Two Mediterranean gobiid fishes new in the Red Sea. Senckenberg Biol 59:19–24Google Scholar
  12. Hoshino Z, Nishikawa T (1985) Taxonomic studies of Ciona intestinalis (L.) and its allies. Publ Seto Mar Biol Lab 30:61–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hoshino Z, Tokioka T (1967) An unusually robust Ciona from the northeastern coast of Honshu Island, Japan. Publ Seto Mar Biol Lab 15:275–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lambert G (2002) Nonindigenous ascidians in tropical waters. Pac Sci 56:291–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lambert CC, Lambert G (1998) Non-indigenous ascidians in southern California harbors and marinas. Mar Biol 130:675–688CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lannelli F, Pesole G, Sordino P, Gissi C (2007) Mitogenomics reveals two cryptic species in Ciona intestinalis. Trends Genet 23:419–422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Malaquias MA, Zamora-Silva A, Vitale D, Spinelli A, De Matteo S, Giacobbe S, Ortigosa D, Cervera JL (2016) The Mediterranean Sea as a gateway for invasion of the Red Sea: the case of the Indo-West Pacific head-shield slug Chelidonura fulvipunctata Baba, 1938. Aquat Inv 11:247–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Martin M (2011) Cutadapt removes adapter sequences from high-throughput sequencing reads. EMBnetjournal 17:10–12Google Scholar
  19. Michaelsen W (1918) Ascidia ptychobranchia und dictyobranchia des roten meeres. Expedition Schiff Pola in das Rote Meer, nördliche und südliche Hälfte 1895/1896–1897/1898. Zool Ergebn 32:1–120 3 plGoogle Scholar
  20. Monniot C, Monniot F (1994) Additions to the inventory of eastern tropical Atlantic ascidians; arrival of cosmopolitan species. Bull Mar Sci 54:71–93Google Scholar
  21. Pérès JM (1949) Contribution à l’étude des Ascidies de la côte occidentale d’Afrique. Bulletin de l’Institut Française d’Afrique Noire 11:159–207Google Scholar
  22. Rius M, Heasman KG, McQuaid CD (2011) Long-term coexistence of non-indigenous species in aquaculture facilities. Mar Pollut Bull 62:2395–2403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rubinstein ND, Feldstein T, Shenkar N, Botero-Castro F, Griggio F, Mastrototaro F, Delsuc F, Douzery EJP, Gissi C, Huchon D (2013) Deep sequencing of mixed total DNA without barcodes allows efficient assembly of highly plastic ascidian mitochondrial genomes. Genome Biol Evol 5:1185–1199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Satoh N, Satou Y, Davidson B, Levine M (2003) Ciona intestinalis: an emerging model for whole-genome analyses. Trends Genet 19:376–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Schofield PJ (2010) Update on geographic spread of invasive lionfishes Pterois volitans (Linnaeus, 1758) and P. miles (Bennett, 1828) in the Western North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. Aquat Inv 5:S117–S122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Stachowicz JJ, Byrnes JE (2006) Species diversity, invasion success, and ecosystem functioning: disentangling the influence of resource competition, facilitation, and extrinsic factors. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 311:251–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Yokobori S, Watanabe Y, Oshima T (2003) Mitochondrial genome of Ciona savignyi (Urochordata, Ascidiacea, Enterogona): comparison of gene arrangement and tRNA genes with Halocynthia roretzi mitochondrial genome. J Mol Evol 57:574–587CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Zenetos A, Almogi A, Ates S, Azzurro E, Ballesteros E, Bianchi CN et al (2012) Alien species in the Mediterranean Sea by 2012. A contribution to the application of European Union’s marine strategy framework directive (MSFD). Part 2. Trends in introduction and pathway/vector. Medit Mar Sci 13:328–352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Zhan A, MacIsaac HJ, Cristescu ME (2010) Invasion genetics of the Ciona intestinalis species complex: from regional endemism to global homogeneity. Mol Ecol 19:4678–4694CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noa Shenkar
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Yaniv Shmuel
    • 1
    • 3
  • Dorothée Huchon
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Zoology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life SciencesTel-Aviv UniversityTel-AvivIsrael
  2. 2.The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Israel National Center for Biodiversity StudiesTel Aviv UniversityTel-AvivIsrael
  3. 3.The Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences of EilatEilatIsrael

Personalised recommendations