The monospecific scleractinian coral genus Sclerophyllia Klunzinger, 1879 was originally described from Al-Qusayr (Egypt) in the Red Sea based on a series of solitary specimens. Thenceforth, it has been considered a junior synonym of Symphyllia and Cynarina based on corallum macromorphology. In this study, several specimens of Sclerophyllia margariticola were collected on the coasts of Saudi Arabia in the northern and central Red Sea. Four molecular markers were sequenced, COI and the intergenic spacer between COI and l-rRNA from mitochondrial DNA and Histone H3 and ribosomal ITS2 from nuclear DNA. Phylogenetic trees and haplotype network analyses show that S. margariticola belongs to the family Lobophylliidae and that it is closely related to Acanthastrea maxima, an uncommon species from waters around the Arabian peninsula (the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf). Sclerophyllia margariticola and A. maxima share several macro- and micromorphological characters, such as the presence of free septa, high elliptical septal teeth perpendicular to the septal margin, irregular lobate tips, very wide tooth spacing, a very strong granulation with granules scattered all along the septal sides, and a palisade interarea structure, and their micromorphology differs substantially from that of Acanthastrea echinata, the type species of Acanthastrea. Therefore, we formally resurrect Sclerophyllia, provide a revised diagnosis for the genus, and move A. maxima into Sclerophyllia.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics