Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 727–747 | Cite as

Taxonomy of Plakina (Porifera: Homoscleromorpha) from Aegean submarine caves, with descriptions of three new species and new characters for the genus

  • Anaíra Lage
  • Vasilis Gerovasileiou
  • Eleni Voultsiadou
  • Guilherme MuricyEmail author
Original Paper


Sponges of the Class Homoscleromorpha, despite their high evolutionary significance, are still poorly known due to their small size and cryptic habit. In this study, we describe five species of the homoscleromorph genus Plakina from submarine caves in the Aegean Sea (Lesvos Island, Greece): Plakina bowerbanki, P. trilopha, P. anisoactina sp. nov., P. anomala sp. nov., and P. hellenica sp. nov. Plakina anomala sp. nov. is the first species of the genus with papillae and the first Homoscleromorpha with a microcavity-filling habit. Plakina bowerbanki, P. anomala sp. nov. and P. anisoactina sp. nov. present exceptionally stout, annulated lophose spicules with highly variable ramification patterns, including some original types. The high diversity of Plakina in the two caves of Lesvos Island is similar to that of northwestern Mediterranean caves. Despite being much less studied, the Aegean Sea now equals the Western Mediterranean as the two ecoregions of the Mediterranean with the highest diversity of Plakina, with eight species each. The Aegean Sea encompasses a huge number of submarine caves, and therefore it has great potential for the discovery of new species of Homoscleromorpha.


Sponges Plakinidae Taxonomy New species Marine caves Greece Eastern Mediterranean 



The authors thank Thanos Dailianis for providing underwater photographs (Figs. 2b–d, 9c–e), Maria Sini and Drosos Koutsoubas for their support during fieldwork, and Snezana Zivanović and Manolis Tsapakis for measuring silicate concentration in water samples from the studied caves. We thank Camila Simões of the “Centro de Microscopia Eletrônica do Museu Nacional, UFRJ” (Petrobras Rede Temática Monitoramento Ambiental Marinho, SAPE 4600225483) for help with SEM, and Joana Sandes for help with sections of Plakina anomala sp. nov. The comments of two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the manuscript.


G.M. and A.L. thank the Fundação Carlos Chagas de Apoio à Pesquisa do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ), Coordenação de Aperfeicoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for grants and fellowships. V.G. was supported by the Research Funding Program “Heracleitus II: Investing in knowledge society” (EU and Greek national funds).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with live animals performed by any of the authors.

Sampling and field studies

All necessary permits for sampling and observational field studies have been obtained by the authors from the competent authorities and are mentioned in the acknowledgements, if applicable.


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© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Invertebrados, Museu NacionalUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Institute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and AquacultureHellenic Centre for Marine ResearchHeraklionGreece
  3. 3.Department of Zoology, School of BiologyAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

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