Field identification of 'types' A and B of the ascidian Ciona intestinalis in a region of sympatry

Atsuko Sato, Nori Satoh, John D.D. Bishop

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


The ascidian species Ciona intestinalis is a major model chordate in developmental and evolutionary biology, and an important fouling organism and invasive species. However, genomic investigation has recently revealed the existence of two cryptic species, genetically distinct yet without obvious morphological differences, currently referred to as types A and B. Here, we show that they are externally distinctive in a zone of sympatry in the western English Channel. Examining genotyped specimens, we found that types A and B of C. intestinalis can generally be distinguished by body colour, pigmentation at the distal end of the siphons and the presence or absence of tubercles on the sides of the siphons. Detecting specimens of hybrid descent still requires detailed molecular analysis, but these visual characters in combination will identify living specimens of types A and B with high probability. These differences are shown to be inherited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1611-1619
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Biology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jul
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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