April 21, 2020  |  

Morphotypes of the common beadlet anemone Actinia equina (L.) are genetically distinct

Anemones of the genus Actinia are ecologically important and familiar organisms on many rocky shores. However, this genus is taxonomically problematical and prior evidence suggests that the North Atlantic beadlet anemone, Actinia equina, may actually consist of a number of cryptic species. Previous genetic work has been largely limited to allozyme electrophoresis and there remains a dearth of genetic resources with which to study this genus. Mitochondrial DNA sequencing may help to clarify the taxonomy of Actinia. Here, the complete mitochondrial genome of the beadlet anemone Actinia equina (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Actinaria: Actiniidae) is shown to be 20,690?bp in length and to contain the standard complement of Cnidarian features including 13 protein coding genes, two rRNA genes, two tRNAs and two Group I introns, one with an in-frame truncated homing endonuclease gene open reading frame. However, amplification and sequencing of the standard mtDNA barcoding region of the cytochrome oxidase I gene revealed only two haplotypes, differing by a single base pair, in widely geographically separated A. equina and its congener A. prasina. COI barcoding shows that whilst A. equina and A. prasina share the common mtDNA haplotype, haplotype frequency differed significantly between A. equina with red/orange pedal discs and those with green pedal discs, consistent with the hypothesis that these morphotypes represent incipient species.


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