Date of Original Version
Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems (MCEs) develop on a unique environment, where abrupt environmental changes take place. Using a time-calibrated molecular phylogeny (mtDNA: mtMutS), we examined the lineage membership of mesophotic gorgonian corals (Octocorallia: Cnidaria) in comparison to shallow and deep-sea lineages of the wider Caribbean-Gulf of Mexico and the Tropical Eastern Pacific. Our results show mesophotic gorgonians originating multiple times from old deep-sea octocoral lineages, whereas shallow-water species comprise younger lineages. The mesophotic gorgonian fauna in the studied areas is related to their zooxanthellate shallow-water counterparts in only two clades (Gorgoniidae and Plexauridae), where the bathymetrical gradient could serve as a driver of diversification. Interestingly, mesophotic clades have diversified faster than either shallow or deep clades. One of this groups with fast diversification is the family Ellisellidae, a major component of the mesophotic gorgonian coral assemblage worldwide.
Sánchez, J. A., González-Zapata, F. L., Prada, C., & Dueñas, L. F. (2021). Mesophotic Gorgonian Corals Evolved Multiple Times and Faster Than Deep and Shallow Lineages. Diversity, 13(12), 650. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/d13120650
Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/d13120650
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