A taxonomic survey of Saudi Arabian Red Sea octocorals (Cnidaria: Alcyonacea)

Roxanne D. Haverkort-Yeh, Catherine S. McFadden, Yehuda Benayahu, Michael Berumen, Anna Halász, Robert J. Toonen

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33 Scopus citations


A preliminary survey of Saudi Arabian Alcyonacea is presented, which combines classical taxonomy, multilocus molecular barcodes, and in situ photographs. We explored 14 locations along the west coast of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to assess the regional taxonomic diversity of non-gorgonian alcyonaceans. We collected samples from a total of 74 colonies, distributed among four families: 18 colonies of Alcyoniidae, 14 of Nephtheidae, 9 of Tubiporidae, and 33 of Xeniidae. We sequenced the octocorals using multiple nuclear [ribosomal Internal Transcribed Spacers (ITS) and ATP Synthetase Subunit α (ATPSα)] and mitochondrial [MutS homolog (mtMutS) and Cytochrome C Oxidase subunit one (COI)] loci, providing molecular barcodes which will: (1) allow direct comparison of biodiversity from this location to others for which molecular data are available, and (2) facilitate future identifications of these taxa. Finally, this preliminary phylogeny of sampled taxa provides insights on the resolution of mitochondrial versus nuclear loci, and highlights octocoral taxa that require further taxonomic attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-291
Number of pages13
JournalMarine Biodiversity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2013


FundersFunder number
Red Sea Research Center
National Science FoundationOCE-0623699, OCE-0929031
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation2008186
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology


    • Octocorallia
    • Phylogenetics
    • Red Sea
    • Systematics
    • Taxonomy


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