Identifying unknown soft coral species of Anthelia (Octocorallia) with multilocus DNA barcoding
DNA barcoding, Octocorallia, coral reef, Anthelia, mtDNA
There are an estimated 1-9 million species of corals yet to be discovered. Anthelia is a species of soft coral that belongs to the Xeniid ae family within Octocorallia. The Xeniidae family of soft corals are of interest due to their ability to rapidly recolonize disturbed reefs, which have become more prevalent with global warming. Octocorallia also contains some of the most valuable corals used in jewelry. Identifying corals not only contributes to its conservation and our knowledge of its evolution, but also prevents fraudulent coral jewelry and the overharvesting of coral beds. However, morphologically identifying corals is very difficult and is further exacerbated with global warming or when it is polished and carved into jewelry. Instead, multilocus DNA barcoding can utilize the genetic material of corals to reveal an accurate classification of species and prevent its exploitation. Specifically, genetic loci in the mitochondrial or nuclear genes can be used to tag and classify corals, with referencing done to genetic databases such as GenBank or NCBI. We identified the soft corals Anthelia glauca, Sarcophtyon tro cheliophorum, and a Sinularia spp. that was mistaken for a species of Nepthea.
Presented on April 20, 2023 at Student Research Day held at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, and also on March 8-10, 2023 at the R. E. Peter Biology Conference held at the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta.
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