[Coral-List] Paper to coral taxonomists and ecologists

FUKAMI Hironobu hfukami at kais.kyoto-u.ac.jp
Thu Nov 13 20:20:36 EST 2008

Dear Coral-list

Recently our group published a paper in PLoS One that
presents a new molecular-based phylogenetic analysis of
the zooxanthellate scleractinia. Most families have
changes, some major, but the scleractinia themselves hold
up as a natural grouping.

We hope that these data will be helpful to both coral
taxonomists and ecologists. Comments either on coral list
or the commmentary site of PLoS One are very welcome.  We
are also still missing some genera altogether and also
species from problematic genera, so suggestions about how
to get these would be appreciated too.

The paper can be found at the PLoS one website (below) or
you can email me to request a PDF.


Apologies for advertisings


Hironobu Fukami Ph.D

Assistant Professor, Seto Marine Biological Lab., 
Field Science Education and Research Center, Kyoto
Shirahama-cho, Wakayama Pref. 649-2211, Japan
Tel: +81-(0)739-42-3515; Fax: +81-(0)739-42-4518
e-mail: hfukami at kais.kyoto-u.ac.jp 

Paper abstract:
Mitochondrial and nuclear genes suggest that stony corals
are monophyletic but most families of stony corals are not
(Order Scleractinia, Class Anthozoa, Phylum Cnidaria)

H. Fukami, C. A. Chen, A. F. Budd, A. Collins, C. Wallace,
Y.-Y. Chuang, C. Chen, C.-F. Dai, K. Iwao, C. Sheppard, N.

Modern hard corals (Class Hexacorallia; Order
Scleractinia) are widely studied because of their
fundamental role in reef building and their superb fossil
record extending back to the Triassic. Nevertheless,
interpretations of their evolutionary relationships have
been in flux for over a decade. Recent analyses undermine
the legitimacy of traditional suborders, families and
genera, and suggest that a non-skeletal sister clade
(Order Corallimorpharia) might be imbedded within the
stony corals. However, these studies either sampled a
relatively limited array of taxa or assembled trees from
heterogeneous data sets.  Here we provide a more
comprehensive analysis of Scleractinia (127 species, 75
genera, 17 families) and various outgroups, based on two
mitochondrial genes (cytochrome oxidase I, cytochrome b),
with analyses of nuclear genes (ß-tubulin, ribosomal
DNA) of a subset of taxa to test unexpected relationships.
 Eleven of 16 families were found to be polyphyletic. 
Strikingly, over one third of all families as
conventionally defined contain representatives from the
highly divergent 
“robust” and “complex” clades. However, the recent
suggestion that corallimorpharians are true corals that
have lost their skeletons was not upheld.  Relationships
were supported not only by mitochondrial and nuclear
genes, but also often by morphological characters which
had been ignored or never noted previously. The
concordance of molecular characters and more carefully
examined morphological characters suggests a future of
greater taxonomic stability, as well as the potential to
trace the evolutionary history of this ecologically
important group using fossils.

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