Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 487–493 | Cite as

A new association between goblet worms (Entoprocta) and xeniid corals (Cnidaria)

  • Vianney DenisEmail author
  • Yu Ting Vicky Lin
  • Ming Jay Ho
Short Communication


The phylum Entoprocta is a cryptic group of sessile, primarily marine filter-feeding invertebrates, commonly called goblet worms. During a recent survey of mesophotic reef diversity at Green Island (Ludao, Taiwan) in February 2017, zooids of the solitary entoproct Loxosomella sp. were first recorded in association with a Cespitularia-like xeniid soft coral collected at 40 m depth. This association was observed on all 14 coral colonies inspected, where their density reached 5.4 (±1.4) zooids per polyp (n = 5). This record not only constitutes the first report of entoprocts in Taiwan, but is also the first documentation of an association between entoprocts and octocorals, and highlights the importance of examining other host candidates in this taxon for a better understanding of their diversity. The exact nature of this potential symbiotic relationship needs to be elucidated, but the isolation of intact zooids suggests that Loxosomella sp. lives on the surface of coral tissues by a tight attachment of their foot. Loxosomella sp. could perhaps benefit from protection offered by soft corals against predators and competitors. The pinnate polyps and fleshy morphology of the coral colony can also assist in sediment removal, which may help entoprocts to avoid burial. Overall, the discovery of this association increases the known diversity of the associated fauna of octocorals, but possible implications in coral fitness still need to be explored.


Entoprocta Xeniidae Soft coral Epizoitism Association Coral symbiome 



The authors thank Profs C Nielsen and CF Dai for their assistance in the identifications, FRE Lab members and the mesophotic team survey Taiwan 2017 for their help on the field, as well as Fu-Yun Chen and Chih-Ying Lu for their support in the laboratory. We are also grateful to S Lavoué and N Sturaro, as well as to four anonymous reviewers for their useful comments on this manuscript. The Green Island Marine Research Station (Academia Sinica) provided all the logistic support for this study. This work was granted by the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan (Taiwan, no. 104-2611-M-002-020-MY2).

Supplementary material

12526_2017_766_Fig4_ESM.jpg (168 kb)
Online Resource 1

Distribution of Entoprocta. a. worldwide b. in East-Asia region with a focus on the distribution of the genus Loxosomella. Data from the current study and Global Biodiversity Information Facility (, accessed 2017/06/27) map of the distribution of Entoprocta (a) with a focus on the Kuroshio region and the distribution of the Loxosomella (b) (JPEG 168 kb)

12526_2017_766_MOESM1_ESM.eps (2.5 mb)
High resolution image (EPS 2549 kb)
12526_2017_766_Fig5_ESM.jpg (273 kb)
Online Resource 2

Mesophotic benthic assemblage at Guiwan site (at 40 m depth) (JPEG 272 kb)

12526_2017_766_MOESM2_ESM.eps (74.6 mb)
High resolution image (EPS 76346 kb)


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of OceanographyNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Green Island Marine Research Station, Biodiversity Research CenterAcademia SinicaTaipeiTaiwan

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