Phenotypic variability in the Caribbean Orange Icing sponge Mycale laevis (Demospongiae: Poecilosclerida)


Sponge species may present several morphotypes, but sponges that are morphologically similar can be separate species. We investigated morphological variation in Mycale laevis, a common Caribbean reef sponge. Four morphotypes of M. laevis have been observed (1) orange, semi-cryptic, (2) orange, massive, (3) white, semi-cryptic, and (4) white, massive. Samples of M. laevis were collected from Key Largo, Florida, the Bahamas Islands, and Bocas del Toro, Panama. Fragments of the 18S and 28S rRNA ribosomal genes were sequenced and subjected to phylogentic analyses together with sequences obtained for 11 other Mycale species and additional sequences retrieved from GenBank. Phylogenetic analyses confirmed that the genus Mycale is monophyletic within the Order Poecilosclerida, although the subgenus Aegogropila is polyphyletic and the subgenus Mycale is paraphyletic. All 4 morphotypes formed a monophyletic group within Mycale, and no genetic differences were observed among them. Spicule lengths did not differ among the 4 morphotypes, but the dominant megasclere in samples collected from Florida and the Bahamas was the strongyle, while those from Panama had subtylostyles. Our data suggest that the 4 morphotypes constitute a single species, but further studies would be necessary to determine whether skeletal variability is due to phentotypic or genotypic plasticity.

DOI: 10.1007/s10750-011-0806-1

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@article{Loh2011PhenotypicVI, title={Phenotypic variability in the Caribbean Orange Icing sponge Mycale laevis (Demospongiae: Poecilosclerida)}, author={Tse-Lynn Loh and Susanna L{\'o}pez-Legentil and Bongkeun Song and Joseph R. Pawlik}, journal={Hydrobiologia}, year={2011}, volume={687}, pages={205-217} }