Abstract

The genus Ammonia is a common benthic foraminifer which is widely distributed in nearshore marine environments. Its large morphological variability causes considerable difficulties in species identification. In the present study, we investigated taxonomic relationships in Ammonia by using a molecular approach based on ribosomal DNA sequences. We obtained 149 partial large subunit ribosomal DNA (LSU rDNA) sequences and 23 small subunit ribosomal DNA (SSU rDNA) sequences from 88 living Ammonia specimens which were collected from free-living populations in 14 localities. Sequence analysis revealed the presence of eight distinct genotypic groups (T1–T7, T9) and one distinct genotype that is represented by one specimen (T8). Examination of morphological characters shows that only one genotypic group can be clearly distinguished by its morphology. Biogeographical and ecological features are used for an additional characterization and it seems that the different groups live in relatively well defined environmental conditions and that only one genotypic group is cosmopolitan, while the others have a rather restricted geographical distribution. According to our study, three of the genotypic groups can be regarded as distinct species.

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