Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 289–300 | Cite as

Living with a giant parchment tube worm: a description of a new nudibranch species (Gastropoda: Heterobranchia) associated with the annelid Chaetopterus

  • Irina EkimovaEmail author
  • Yury Deart
  • Dimitry Schepetov
Original Paper


Small fionid nudibranch specimens collected within a Chaetopterus sp. tube worm are described here as a new species Tenellia chaetopterana sp. nov. This case is the first example of symbiotic association between a mollusk and an annelid host amongst cladobranch sea slugs. The external morphology of this species suggests it is adapted for living inside the worm’s tube: flattened body, laterally directed cerata and rhinophores, and wide foot. Molecular data, including partial sequences of mitochondrial COI and 16S and nuclear H3 genes, indicates that this species is distinct from other members of the genus Tenellia as well as other fionids. The species is close to the coral-feeding fionids of the genus Tenellia (formerly in genus Phestilla) in several morphological characters such as general radula morphology, absence of cnidosacs, and flattened body shape, as well as by molecular data. Tenellia chaetopterana sp. nov. has unique biology, implicating possible diversity previously overlooked by nudibranch faunistic studies.


Nudibranchia Fionidae Symbiotic associations Endoecism Integrative systematics Molecular phylogeny 



We are deeply grateful to Prof. Temir Britayev and Prof. Daniel Martin for their intense efforts in organization of Chaetopterus symbiotic communities studies and for valuable help in the fieldwork. Elena Mekhova helped in collecting and procssing of the living Chaetopterus specimens. Ángel Valdés, Maria Stanovova, and two anonymous reviewers are owed special thanks for constructive criticism that improved the manuscript. We also want to thank the staff of the Electron Microscopy Cabinet of Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of RAS, staff of the Cooperative Laboratory of Electron Microscopy of Moscow State University, and the staff of the Cooperative Far Eastern Center of Electron Microscopy for providing SEM facilities. Molecular study was conducted using equipment of the Core Centrum of Institute of Developmental Biology RAS. Field explorations were supported by Russian Science Foundation grant no. 14-14-01179 and funding provided by the Vietnam-Russia Tropical Center to YD. Morphological and molecular studies were supported by Russian Science Foundation grant no. 14-50-00034 to IE.

Supplementary material

12526_2017_795_MOESM1_ESM.docx (30 kb)
Table S1 (DOCX 30 kb)


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Invertebrate zoologyMoscow State UniversityMoscowRussia
  2. 2.Far Eastern Federal UniversityVladivostokRussia
  3. 3.A.N. Severstov Institute of Ecology and EvolutionMoscowRussia
  4. 4.N.K. Koltsov Institute of Developmental Biology RASMoscowRussia

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