Alcyonium may be of hybrid origin

d7c10047-4fa4-462c-8dec-a9ab10242c41

Editor's Picks
Do I need an aquarium filter
Features Post
Do I need a filter for an aquarium?
07 February 2024
Features Post
How to set up an African biotope aquarium
01 February 2024
Fishkeeping News Post
AQUAH: A new UK aquatic and reptile show for 2024
17 January 2024
Practical Fishkeeping Readers' Poll 2023
Fishkeeping News Post
Readers' Poll 2023
07 August 2023


The octocoral genus Alcyonium may have evolved through hybridisation, according to a new molecular study due to be published next month.

Two scientists from the Department of Biology at Harvey Mudd College in the USA will provide new evidence in the journal Molecular Ecology to show that Alcyonium may have arisen through the crossing of the European soft corals Alcyonium hibernicum and Bellonella bocagei.

McFadden and Hutchinson looked at polymorphic and recombinant sequences in the multicopy ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of the corals' DNA. They cloned sequences from related corals in the group and reconstructed a phylogeny which shows that four related corals may have arisen by cross-breeding with each other in the distant past.

McFadden and Hutchinson say that the corals are split into two distinct clades: "All A. coralloides sequences belonged to clade A, while A. sp. M2 had only clade B sequences. A majority of A. hibernicum individuals, however, contained both clade A and B sequences that were identical to the predominant sequence variants found in A. coralloides and A. sp. M2, respectively. "

The paper is due to be published in the next issue of Molecular Ecology: McFadden CS, Hutchinson MB. (2004) - Molecular evidence for the hybrid origin of species in the soft coral genus Alcyonium (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Octocorallia). Mol Ecol. 2004 Jun;13(6):1495-505.