Mushroom corals are reef corals of the family Fungiidae, which live in the tropical and subtropical Indo-Pacific region. Recently, most species of this family have been revised taxonomically based on morphological and molecular analyses. However, the phylogenetic position of Cycloseris hexagonalis (Milne Edwards and Haime, 1848) has not been analyzed and remains unclear. This species is believed to show allometric growth by changing its corallum shape from hexagonal in juveniles to irregularly circular with an undulated corallum margin in mature individuals. However, these morphological changes have not been monitored and their genetic basis has not been confirmed. In the present study morphological and molecular phylogenetic analyses were performed to evaluate the identity of the morpho-types in C. hexagonalis and to clarify the phylogenetic and taxonomic position of the species. In the morphological analysis, we used 20 specimens of C. hexagonalis collected from around Iriomote Island, Okinawa, Japan, and identified four morphotypes. Moreover, the molecular phylogenetic analyses using mitochondrial COI and nuclear ITS markers showed that all morpho-types of C. hexagonalis together form an independent clade, indicating that they are all conspecific. Molecular phylogenetic comparison between this species and other fungiids revealed that the clade of C. hexagonalis is clearly distant from the Cycloseris clade as well as from clades representing other genera in the Fungiidae. Considering these data, we establish a monotypic new genus, Sinuorota, to accommodate C. hexagonalis.
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