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A new species of coral-feeding nudibranch (Mollusca: Gastropoda) from the Gulf of Thailand

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The validity and position of the Indo Pacific genus Phestilla Bergh, 1874 (Fionoidea: Trinchesiidae) have been subject of some controversy as a result of several recent studies, which have sequentially synonymized or re-established it. At present, the genus includes eight valid species, the most of them described in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and all but one feeding on scleractinian corals of four genera: Porites Link, 1807 (Poritidae), Tubastraea Lesson, 1830, Dendrophyllia Blainville, 1830 (Dendrophylliidae) and Montipora Blainville, 1830 (Acroporidae). The discovery of an unknown Phestilla species feeding on Pavona explanulata (Lamarck, 1816) (Agariciidae) in Koh Tao, Thailand, motivates this work, in which this new species is described providing morphoanatomical and molecular characters. In addition, its systematic position and ecological significance as coral parasite are discussed.

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Bursa copulatrix


Deferent duct


Female gland mass


Hermaphroditic duct










Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris


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We would like to thank Dr. Françoise Monniot (MNHN) for her help with the optical microscopy. We would also like to thank Elouise Haskin, Alyssa Allchurch, Kirsty Magson, Pau Urgell Plaza, and Elliot Young for their assistance in data collection. Finally, we would like to thank Chad Scott for facilitating coral reef conservation and ecological research in the region. Research permissions were gathered through Chulalongkorn University. We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers and the editor for their constructive comments on the manuscript.


The first author received support from the Graduate School at Chulalongkorn University via the 100th Anniversary Chulalongkorn University Fund for Doctoral Scholarship and the 90th Anniversary of Chulalongkorn University Fund (Ratchadaphiseksomphot Endowment Fund). This study was also funded by Conservation Diver (Registered US Charity #20183007707;, Thailand Research Fund (RSA 6080087), TASCMAR EU Horizon 2020 and NRCT-JSPS Core to Core Program.

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Correspondence to Manuel Caballer.

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All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed by 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, through Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. The study is compliant with CBD and Nagoya protocols.

Data availability

The molecular data generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available in the GenBank repository and can be found using accession numbers provided in Table 1. Specimens used in the present study are deposited in the following museum: MNHN (IM-2000-28508).

Author contribution

RM and MC conceived and designed the study. RM and SC conducted samplings. RM and SA conducted in-field ecological data collection. MC performed anatomical studies. RM and AW did the molecular analysis. All authors analyzed data. RM wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors made contributions and approved the final manuscript.

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Communicated by V. Urgorri

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Mehrotra, R., Arnold, S., Wang, A. et al. A new species of coral-feeding nudibranch (Mollusca: Gastropoda) from the Gulf of Thailand. Mar. Biodivers. 50, 36 (2020).

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