Molecular and morphological systematics of a new, reef forming, cupped oyster from the northern Arabian Gulf: Talonostrea salpinx new species.
The rocky northern shores of Kuwait and those of the western, inner shores of Kuwait Bay are dominated by a small, densely encrusting oyster. The identity of this oyster has never been confirmed and was mistaken previously for a small Saccostrea. The shell morphology suggests that this species belongs to the subfamily Crassostreinae, but within that subfamily, the presence of marginal erect trumpet-shaped projections is so far unique. Phylogenetic analyses based on mitochondrial DNA sequence data confirmed that this species belongs to the Crassostreinae and has a sister position to the clade including Talonostrea talonata and T. zhanjiangensis. Genetic distance between this species and Talonostrea species is remarkably high, being ~20% for the cytochrome oxidase I gene and ~7% for the 16S rRNA gene. Based on morphological and molecular analyses, this oyster is therefore described here as Talonostrea salpinx Oliver, Salvi & Al-Kandari, sp. nov. Shell morphology is shown to be variable, and the different forms encountered are described. The wider distribution and origins of this species, whether native or introduced, are discussed.