Didemnum molle, a colonial ascidian that harbors the symbiotic cyanophyte Prochloron spp., is distributed throughout the coral reefs of the Indo—West Pacific Ocean. Several morphotypes of D. molle are characterized by the color and size of their colonies. Previous molecular phylogeny inferred from gene sequences for the cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) identified four morphotypes (i.e., gray, brown, white, and large) from several sites in the Ryukyu Islands, Japan. With the addition of 17 specimens, including another morphotype (small), from several collection sites (Taiwan and the Ryukyus), the present report demonstrates genetic separation among the five morphotypes based on COI sequences. A number of sexually mature specimens of the different morphotypes were collected at the same times and sites, indicating reproductive isolation among morphotypes.
cytochrome oxidase subunit I