The diversity, ubiquity and prevalence in deep waters of the octocoral family Chrysogorgiidae Verrill, 1883 make it noteworthy as a model system to study radiation and diversification in the deep sea. Here we provide the first comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of the Chrysogorgiidae, and compare phylogeny and depth distribution. Phylogenetic relationships among 10 of 14 currently-described Chrysogorgiidae genera were inferred based on mitochondrial (mtMutS, cox1) and nuclear (18S) markers. Bathymetric distribution was estimated from multiple sources, including museum records, a literature review, and our own sampling records (985 stations, 2345 specimens). Genetic analyses suggest that the Chrysogorgiidae as currently described is a polyphyletic family. Shallow-water genera, and two of eight deep-water genera, appear more closely related to other octocoral families than to the remainder of the monophyletic, deep-water chrysogorgiid genera. Monophyletic chrysogorgiids are composed of strictly (Iridogorgia Verrill, 1883, Metallogorgia Versluys, 1902, Radicipes Stearns, 1883, Pseudochrysogorgia Pante & France, 2010) and predominantly (Chrysogorgia Duchassaing & Michelotti, 1864) deep-sea genera that diversified in situ. This group is sister to gold corals (Primnoidae Milne Edwards, 1857) and deep-sea bamboo corals (Keratoisidinae Gray, 1870), whose diversity also peaks in the deep sea. Nine species of Chrysogorgia that were described from depths shallower than 200 m, and mtMutS haplotypes sequenced from specimens sampled as shallow as 101 m, suggest a shallow-water emergence of some Chrysogorgia species.
© 2013 Catherine S. McFadden. Posted with permission.
Pante E, France SC, Couloux A, Cruaud C, McFadden CS, Samadi S, Watling L (2012) Deep-sea origin and in-situ diversification of chrysogorgiid octocorals. PLoS One 7(6): e38357