Ophiothrix angulata, a widely recognized and widespread species of ophiuroid in the Western Atlantic, has long been the subject of taxonomic debate due to its remarkable morphological diversity. A new study published in PeerJ shed light on the taxonomy of species, revealing a significant scientific breakthrough.
Led by a group of researchers from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the Catholic University of Maule and the Florida Natural History Museum, the comprehensive study aimed to assess the delimitation of species and geographic diversity within O. eel
Quetzalli Hernández, co-author of the study, emphasized the need for an integrative approach, saying, “We tried to unravel the genetic relationship between the different shapes and colors of the arm of the ophiuroid species Ophiothrix eel.”
“This species is widely distributed in different latitudes and depths, and its classification has caused confusion since its description almost 200 years ago, due to the many different colors and subtle differences observed, which are confusing of alpha taxonomists who rely only on morphological characteristics. Therefore, to meet this taxonomic challenge, we adopted an integrative approach, which carried out separate analyzes of several types of genetic and morphological data before it is combined.”
“By compiling extensive evidence and following the criteria for species definition, we have determined that Ophiothrix angulata represents a complex species with a cryptic diversity that is more or less restricted within large regions in geography.
The study revealed significant discoveries about Ophiothrix angulata, which was traditionally recognized as a single species. Hernández explained the findings, saying, “In the distribution of the northwest Atlantic, we identified two distinct genetic clades using COI (mitochondrial) and ITS2 (nuclear ) genetic markers. ventral and dorsal arm plates. By combining genetic and morphometric data through integrative analyses, we have gathered substantial evidence to support the existence of more than one species within the cryptic complex. in Ophiothrix angulata.”
“One of these genetic clades revealed that a group previously classified as O. angulata belongs to a new ophiuroid species. different genetic clades within our study. This finding has great significance for O. angulata species complex, because it challenges the validity of subspecies described only based on color patterns in the 19th century, which remain relevant today.”
The recognition of many species within the Ophiothrix angulata complex shows the importance of combining different types of data in taxonomic studies. This development not only improves our understanding of the species’ evolutionary history but also has implications for conservation efforts and management strategies.
The study serves as a milestone in the field of ophiuroid research and highlights the value of interdisciplinary approaches. This paves the way for further exploration of the ecology, behavior, and distribution patterns of this newly identified species within Ophiothrix angulata.
Yoalli Quetzalli Hernández-Díaz et al, Integrative species delimitation of the common ophiuroid Ophiothrix angulata (Echinodermata: Ophiuroidea): insights from COI, ITS2, arm coloration, and geometric morphometrics, PeerJ (2023). DOI: 10.7717/peerj.15655
Citation: New study uncovers taxonomic breakthrough in ophiuroid Ophiothrix angulata (2023, July 17) Retrieved 17 July 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-07-uncovers-taxonomic-breakthrough-ophiuroid-ophiothrix. html
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