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Rare zooxanthellate Nanipora octocoral (Helioporacea) in the Gulf of Thailand

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The octocoral Nanipora kamurai is the fifth species of octocoral described with an aragonite skeleton. So far, it has only been known from a single location in Okinawa, Japan. Here, we report on the second recorded location of the genus Nanipora, in the Gulf of Thailand, where its colonies were found in relatively high densities. A total of 143 separate Nanipora colonies were counted in transects on a coral reef at Koh Tao, Thailand. They were found living on dead coral skeletons and on the shell of a living Tridacna squamosa clam. Phylogenetic analyses of cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI) and mitochondrial mismatch repair protein (mtMutS) sequences showed that they belong to N. kamurai or to a close relative of this species. Additionally, a symbiotic relationship with Symbiodinium was observed for the first time in Nanipora, confirmed by sequences of the internal transcribed spacer region of ribosomal DNA (ITS-rDNA) of the dinoflagellate.

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The authors would like to thank Dr. Yehuda Benayahu, Dr. Leen van Ofwegen, Dr. Catherine McFadden, and Dr. Juan Armando Sánchez Muñoz for their input and advice, and Dr. Caterina Carbonell for invaluable assistance in the field and lab. This research was partially funded by the Ratchadaphiseksomphot Endowment Fund (CU-56-921-CC) and by King Chulalongkorn University, Thailand (RES560530213 CC). Comments from the three anonymous reviewers greatly improved an earlier version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Rahul Mehrotra.

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Communicated by B. W. Hoeksema

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Plaza, P.U., Mehrotra, R., Scott, C.M. et al. Rare zooxanthellate Nanipora octocoral (Helioporacea) in the Gulf of Thailand. Mar Biodiv 48, 1961–1967 (2018).

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