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Integrative taxonomy justifies a new genus, Nodastrella gen. nov., for North Atlantic "Rossella" species (Porifera: Hexactinellida: Rossellidae)

M. Dohrmann, C. Gocke, J. Reed, D. Janussen


Molecular systematic studies have indicated that the hexactinellid sponge species Rossella nodastrella Topsent (Lyssacinosida, Rossellidae), previously only known from the NE Atlantic, is only distantly related to its congeners, which are restricted to the Southern Ocean, representing the only case thus far reported of a diphyletic genus in the class Hexactinellida. Here we describe new material of "Rossella" nodastrella from cold-water coral reefs in the NW Atlantic (Florida). Morphological comparison with the holotype from the Azores and specimens recently reported from off Ireland reveal at least two distinct species, which we corroborate with molecular data. Because the diphyletic nature of "Rossella" is further supported with inclusion of the new specimens in the molecular phylogeny, we erect a new genus, Nodastrella gen. nov., for these two species. The Irish specimens are synonymized with our new species Nodastrella asconemaoida sp. nov. Subtle morphological and molecular differences between the E and W Atlantic specimens are for the time being ascribed to intraspecific geographic variation, but indicate that Nodastrella might contain more (sub) species, pending investigation of additional specimens, especially from intermediate locations.


Asconema, cold-water coral reefs, glass sponges, molecular systematics, new genus, North Atlantic Ocean, Rossella nodastrella

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ISSN 1175-5326 (Print Edition) & ISSN 1175-5334 (Online Edition)
Published by Magnolia Press, Auckland, New Zealand
A founding journal of Biotaxa