Scientia Marina, Vol 80, No 4 (2016)

Cryptic diversity in Mediterranean gastropods of the genus Aplus (Neogastropoda: Buccinidae)

Chrifa Aissaoui
Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité ISYEB - UMR 7205 – CNRS, MNHN, UPMC, EPHE, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Sorbonne Universités - Université de Carthage, Faculté des Sciences de Bizerte, Tunisia

Nicolas Puillandre
Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité ISYEB - UMR 7205 – CNRS, MNHN, UPMC, EPHE, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Sorbonne Universités,, France

Philippe Bouchet
Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité ISYEB - UMR 7205 – CNRS, MNHN, UPMC, EPHE, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Sorbonne Universités, France

Giulia Fassio
Dipartimento di Biologia e Biotecnologie “Charles Darwin”, ‘Sapienza’ Università di Roma, Italy

Maria Vittoria Modica
Dipartimento di Biologia e Biotecnologie “Charles Darwin”, ‘Sapienza’ Università di Roma, Italy

Marco Oliverio
Dipartimento di Biologia e Biotecnologie “Charles Darwin”, ‘Sapienza’ Università di Roma, Italy


Northeastern Atlantic and Mediterranean gastropods previously ascribed to the buccinid genus Pollia Gray, 1837 are more correctly classified in the genus Aplus de Gregorio, 1885. Using an integrative taxonomy approach combining molecular, morphological and geographic data, we revisit the limits of the extant species in the area, and propose a molecular phylogenetic hypothesis based on 66 specimens from various localities in the Mediterranean Sea, including type localities of some nominal taxa. We used a preliminary morphological inspection, followed by a DNA-barcoding approach to propose species hypotheses, subsequently consolidated using additional data (phylogenetic, geographic and refined morphological data). Seven species hypotheses were eventually retained within our molecularly assayed samples, versus three classical morphologically recognized species. Among these, three correspond to Aplus dorbignyi (Payreaudeau, 1826) with its hitherto unrecognized geographical cognates A. gaillardoti (Puton, 1856) (eastern Mediterranean) and Aplus nodulosus (Bivona Ant., 1832) (Sicily); two closely related, yet considerably divergent, lineages are treated as a single species under Aplus scaber (Locard, 1892); the classically admitted Aplus scacchianus (Philippi, 1844) is confirmed by molecular evidence; Mediterranean populations attributable to Aplus assimilis (Reeve, 1846) may represent either cryptic native populations or an ongoing invasion of the Mediterranean by what was hitherto considered to be a West African species; finally, specimens from the Strait of Gibraltar may represent an undescribed species, but we conservatively refrain from formally introducing it pending the analysis of more material, and it is compared with the similar Aplus campisii (Ardovini, 2014), recently described from Sicily and not assayed molecularly, and Aplus scaber.


Mollusca; gastropoda; cryptic species; DNA-barcoding; taxonomy

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