Where are the polyps? Molecular identification, distribution and population differentiation of Aurelia aurita jellyfish polyps in the southern North Sea area

Walraven, L. van; Driessen, F.; Bleijswijk, J. van; Bol, A.; Luttikhuizen, P.; Coolen, J.W.P.; Bos, Oscar; Gittenberger, A.; Schrieken, N.; Langenberg, V.T.; Veer, H.W. van der


For many species of metagenic jellyfish the location of the benthic polyps is unknown. To gain insight in the distribution, species composition and population structure of scyphozoan jellyfish polyps in the southern North Sea area, polyp samples were collected from natural and artificial substrates (settling plates, marina floats and wrecks) at ten inshore locations in the Netherlands, seven offshore locations in the North Sea and in the Gullmar Fjord in Sweden. Polyps were identified to species level by sequencing both a fragment of 18S rDNA and a fragment of mitochondrial COI, and comparing these sequences to reference sequences available in GenBank and to newly obtained sequences from medusae collected in the area. All polyps sequenced did belong to Aurelia aurita. For this species, molecular diversity in mitochondrial COI was high, with 50 haplotypes among 183 polyps. Population differentiation was detected between the Dogger Bank and other—more coastal—locations, indicating extremely low connectivity. No significant differences were found between coastal samples. The location of polyps of Cyanea capillata, Cyanea lamarckii, Chrysaora hysoscella and Rhizostoma octopus in the study area remains unresolved.