Molluscs are invertebrates that make up one of the most numerous groups in the animal kingdom. They are everywhere, from great heights of over 3,000m above sea level to ocean profundities of over 5,000m deep, in polar and tropical waters and they tend to be common elements on coastlines around the world. Within this animal group are found the nudibranchs, characterized among other things, for not having shells and being brightly coloured. This colouring alerts their predators to their toxicity. Within this group, in turn, we can find the Aeolidiidae family.
This family has been the centre of a study by the researcher from the University of Cdiz, Leila Carmona; a project which has been principally based on reviewing, from a molecular and morphological point of view, all of the known species that make it up. This group of invertebrates "is one of the biggest with regard to the number of genera that make it up and, although it has been known for a long time, not a lot is known about it", explains the researcher.
So, Doctor Carmona started a project whose primary objective was to draw up a list of the greatest possible number of these animals and in order to do this, together with one of her thesis directors, the UCA professor Juan Lucas Cervera, she requested material from museums, research institutes, universities, diving associations or any individual familiar with and residing in the areas where specific species of Aeolidiidae could be found. In this way, the University of Cadiz, gradually built up an important collection of these molluscs, 52 species, which were studied by Leila Carmona.
"Once we started acquiring the species, the molecular analysis began. For this, their DNA was extracted and a series of analyses known as "phylogenetic analyses" was carried out, the aim of which was to determine the degree of relatedness between species and genera. In this way, a list of results was gradually compiled and we could decide which genera
|Contact: Leila Carmona|
University of Cadiz