Phestilla subodiosus sp. Nov. (nudibranchia, trinchesiidae), a corallivorous pest species in the aquarium trade

Adam WANG, Inga Elizabeth CONTI-JERPE, John Lawrence RICHARDS, David Michael BAKER*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Phestilla subodiosus sp. nov. (Nudibranchia: Trinchesiidae) is a novel species that feeds on corals in the genus Montipora (Scleractinia: Acroporidae) which are economically important in the aquarium industry. Nuclear-encoded H3, 28SC1-C2, and mitochondrial-encoded COI and 16S markers were sequenced. Phylogenetic analysis, Automatic Barcode Gap Discovery (ABGD), morphological data, and feeding specialization all support the designation of Phestilla subodiosus sp. nov. as a distinct species. Although new to science, Phestilla subodiosus sp. nov. had been extensively reported by aquarium hobbyists as a prolific pest over the past two decades. The species fell into a well-studied genus, which could facilitate research into its control in reef aquaria. Our phylogenetic analysis also revealed Tenellia chaetopterana formed a well-supported clade with Phestilla. Based upon a literature review, its original morphological description, and our phylogenetic hypothesis, we reclassified this species as Phestilla chaetopterana comb. nov.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
Issue number909
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the reviewers for their time and effort to review this paper and provide insightful comments and suggestions. The authors gratefully acknowledge Dr. Moriaki Yasuhara and Ms. Maria Lo Gar Yee of the University of Hong Kong for allowing us to use their microscope and microscopy assistance, Kerry Samantha Hsu from the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Han Guo Hong from the Fourth Military Medical University for manuscript comments, Jeffrey Chan for the design of feeding experiments, and Vriko Yu of the University of Hong Kong for aiding the sequencing and other slug-related work. We are also extremely thankful to Marcus Hibbins from Indiana University Bloomington for his help on phylogenetic analysis, as well as James Townsend and Alejandro Damián Serrano from the University of Pennsylvania, and everybody else from our science meme page admin group chat for their advice on Latin translations, stylistic elements, and providing moral support. Last but not least, the first author is also extremely grateful and indebted to Dr. Theodore Faunce for helping him receive this opportunity to conduct research for the first time. This project was funded by the Environment and Conservation Fund (# 67/2016) and is manuscript number 48 of MarineGEO-Hong Kong.

Publisher Copyright:
© Adam Wang et al.


  • Aquaculture
  • Corallivore
  • Nudibranchs


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