Contributions to Zoology, 83 (3) – 2014Roberto Arrigoni; Zoe T Richards; Chaolun Allen Chen; Andrew H Baird; Francesca Benzoni: Taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships of the coral genera Australomussa and Parascolymia (Scleractinia, Lobophylliidae)

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Abstract

Novel micromorphological characters in combination with molecular studies have led to an extensive revision of the taxonomy and systematics of scleractinian corals. In the present work, we investigate the macro- and micromorphology and the phylogenetic position of the genera Australomussa and Parascolymia, two monotypic genera ascribed to the family Lobophylliidae. The molecular phylogeny of both genera was addressed using three markers, the partial mitochondrial COI gene and the nuclear histone H3 and the ribosomal ITS region. Based on molecular data, Australomussa and Parascolymia belong to the Lobophylliidae and they cluster together with the genera Lobophyllia and Symphyllia within the same clade. While A. rowleyensis and P. vitiensis are closely related based on the three gene regions examined, their macro and micromorphology suggest that these species are distinct, differing in several characters, such as continuity and thickness of the costosepta, the number of septa, septal tooth height, spacing, and shape, and the distribution and shape of granules. Thus, we revise the taxonomic status of the genus Australomussa as a junior synonym of Parascolymia.