Corresponding author: Stephen D. Cairns ( email@example.com )
Academic editor: Bert W. Hoeksema
© 2017 Stephen D. Cairns, Ralf T. S. Cordeiro.
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Citation: Cairns SD, Cordeiro RTS (2017) A new genus and species of golden coral (Anthozoa, Octocorallia, Chrysogorgiidae) from the Northwest Atlantic. ZooKeys 668: 1-10. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.668.12203
A new genus and species of unbranched golden coral, Flagelligorgia gracilis, is described based on several specimens collected off the southeastern coast of the United States. The genus is provisionally included in the family Chrysogorgiidae, pending molecular confirmation. Flagelligorgia morphologically resembles other unbranched chrysogorgiids, such as Distichogorgia, Chalcogorgia, Helicogorgia and Radicipes, to which it is compared. The type species is illustrated and its distribution mapped.
Flagelligorgia gracilis, unbranched octocoral, biserial polyp arrangement, Radicipes, southeastern USA
Chrysogorgiids form a polyphyletic family of octocorals (
All specimens are preserved in ethanol (70%) and deposited at the National Museum of Natural History. Reference material of all species of Radicipes was also examined (
Abbreviations used in the text include: Alb – USFWS Albatross, L:W – length to width ratio of a sclerite, MCC – Monophyletic Chrysogorgiidae Clade sensu
Chrysogorgia Duchassaing & Michelotti, 1864.
Fourteen genera have been assigned to the Chrysogorgiidae, but based on sequencing of three genes,
Worldwide, 31–4492 m depths (
Flagelligorgia gracilis, here designated. Gender: feminine.
Colonies unbranched (flagelliform), loosely coiled, attached by a holdfast; axis composed of undulating concentric layers (Figs
Until 1956 (
Chalcogorgia Bayer, 1949, known only from its type locality off northwestern Cuba at 708 m depth, is also unbranched and has biserially arranged polyps, like Flagelligorgia, but differs in having eight triangular opercular scales on each polyp, and body wall scales shaped as irregularly shaped platelets. According to
Distichogorgia Bayer, 1979, known only from the Blake Plateau off Florida at 814 m depth, is unbranched and has biserially arranged polyps, but differs in having unique body wall scales consisting of two fans of longitudinally arranged, blade-like scales, one on each side of the polyp, interspersed with tiny pointed sclerites, similar to its coenenchymals.
Perhaps most similar to Flagelligorgia is the genus Radicipes Stearns, 1883, consisting of 9–10 species (see
Off Southeastern United States from North Carolina to Florida, 196–567 m depths.
The name is a combination of flagellum (Latin for small whip) and gorgia (a common octocoral suffix and once the name of the order Gorgonacea, the name derived from the mythical female monster, the Gorgon), in reference to the flagelliform nature of the colony.
(Types). Holotype: Alb-2666, 1 specimen now in two pieces,
Diagnostic characters of Flagelligorgia gracilis sp. n. A general view of the holotype (
30°47'30"N, 79°49'W (continental slope off Georgia), 494 m depth.
The colony is unbranched (flagelliform) and quite delicate, with an ascending clockwise spiral growth form (Fig.
As in other unbranched octocorals, such as species of Radicipes, some specimens (e.g., from
Named gracilis (Latin for slender, gracile), in allusion to the very slender aspect of the colony.
We are grateful to the reviewers Dr. Eric Pante and Dr. Scott France and to Dr. Bert Hoeksema (editor), for their valuable suggestions for the improvement of this manuscript. The second author thanks the Smithsonian for a Short Term Visitor grant, which facilitated the accomplishment of this study. RTSC was also supported by FACEPE (IBPG-0558-2.04/13), Brazil.