AB 14:277-281 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00401

Molecular diversity and specificity of acoel worms associated with corals in the Gulf of Eilat (Red Sea)

O. Barneah1,3, E. Ben-Dov1,4, Y. Benayahu3, I. Brickner3, A. Kushmaro1,2*

1Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering and 2National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, PO Box 653, Be’er-Sheva 84105, Israel
3Department of Zoology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel
4Achva Academic College, MP Shikmim 79800, Israel

ABSTRACT: Epizoic acoel worms are known to inhabit several stony coral genera and one soft coral genus in Eilat (Red Sea). Such acoels were recently found to belong to the genus Waminoa and a new species was described: W. brickneri. Worms isolated from several coral species exhibited variability in size and reproductive state, suggesting the presence of more than one species of Waminoa. In the present study we examined the 18S rRNA gene sequences of worms from 6 genera of stony corals from the Gulf of Eilat to reveal the genetic variability of the worms and to study the specificity between these worms and the corals on which they live. The sequences obtained were found to be genetically similar, and they formed a distinct cluster with the 18S rRNA gene sequence of W. brickneri. Our results demonstrate that corals belonging to 6 different genera harbored genetically similar worms and thus suggest the existence of low specificity between worms and their coral hosts.

KEY WORDS: Acoela · Waminoa · Epizoic worms · Specificity · Coral reef · Eilat

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Cite this article as: Barneah O, Ben-Dov E, Benayahu Y, Brickner I, Kushmaro A (2012) Molecular diversity and specificity of acoel worms associated with corals in the Gulf of Eilat (Red Sea). Aquat Biol 14:277-281. https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00401

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