Three new species of Phyllodesmium.

September 1, 2008
From: Bill Rudman

A paper has just been published (Burghardt, Schroedl & Wagele, 2008) describing another three new solar-powered species of Phyllodesmium. Phyllodesmium lizardensis from Lizard Island, on the Great Barrier Reef (Australia) and P. lembehensis from Sulawesi (Indonesia) are two more species feeding on octocorals of the family Xeniidae and both are closely associated with their food and are well camouflaged, their cerata mimicking the tentacles of the xeniid polyps. In vivo measurements of photosynthetic activities in P. lizardensis and P. lembehensis indicate a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae at least for some days.

The third species, Phyllodesmium koehleri, has been previously reported on the Forum as Phyllodesmium sp. 2. It has spectacular cactus-like cerata, and the extensive branching of the digestive gland ducts in the body wall and even the rhinophores suggest a well-developed symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae. It is suggested it most probably feeds on neptheid soft corals of the genera Lemnalia or Paralemnalia.

As many of you will know, this is one of my favourite groups of aeolid nudibranchs, so any new information on them and their fascinating symbioses with soft corals and zooxanthellae is always welcome.

  • Burghardt, I., Schroedl, M. & Wagele, H. 2008. Three new solar-powered species of the genus Phyllodesmium Ehrenberg, 1831 (Mollusca: Nudibranchia: Aeolidioidea) from the tropical Indo-pacific, with analysis of their photosynthetic activity and notes on biology. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 74: 277-292.

Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2008 (Sep 1) Three new species of Phyllodesmium.. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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