New Neopetrosia from Caribbean
Added on 2019-02-06 09:47:17 by Boury-Esnault, Nicole
Vicente, J.; Ríos, J.A.; Zea, S.; Toonen, R.J. (2019). Molecular and morphological congruence of three new cryptic Neopetrosia spp. in the Caribbean. PeerJ, 7: e6371
Neopetrosia proxima (Porifera: Demospongiae: Haplosclerida) is described as a morphologically variable sponge common on shallow reefs of the Caribbean. However, the range of morphological and reproductive variation within putative N. proxima led us to hypothesize that such variability may be indicative of cryptic species rather than plasticity. Using DNA sequences and morphological characters we confirmed the presence of three previously undescribed species of Neopetrosia. Morphological differences of each new congener were best resolved by partial gene sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 over nuclear ones (18S rRNA and 28S rRNA). Several new characters for Neopetrosia were revealed by each new species. For example, N. dendrocrevacea sp. nov. and N. cristata sp. nov. showed the presence of grooves on the surface of the sponge body that converge at the oscula, and a more disorganized skeleton than previously defined for the genus. N. sigmafera sp. nov. adds the (1) presence of sigma microscleres, (2) significantly wider/longer oxeas (>200 mm), and (3) the presence of parenchymella larvae. Sampling of conspecifics throughout several locations in the Caribbean revealed larger spicules in habitats closer to the continental shelf than those in remote island locations. Our study highlights the importance of integrating molecular and morphological systematics for the discrimination of new Neopetrosia spp. despite belonging to one of several polyphyletic groups (families, genera) within the current definition of the order Haplosclerida.