Molecular systematic studies of the anthozoan class Octocorallia have revealed widespread incongruence between phylogenetic relationships and taxonomic classification at all levels of the Linnean hierarchy. Among the soft coral taxa in order Malacalcyonacea, the family Alcyoniidae and its type genus Alcyonium have both been recognised to be highly polyphyletic. A recent family-level revision of Octocorallia established a number of new families for genera formerly considered to belong to Alcyoniidae, but revision of Alcyonium is not yet complete. Previous molecular studies have supported the placement of Alcyonium verseveldti (Benayahu, 1982) in family Cladiellidae rather than Alcyoniidae, phylogenetically distinct from the other three genera in that family. Here we describe a new genus, Ofwegenum gen. nov. to accommodate O. verseveldti comb. nov. and three new species of that genus, O. coronalucis sp. nov., O. kloogi sp. nov., and O. colli sp. nov., bringing the total number of species in this genus to four. Ofwegenum gen. nov. is a rarely encountered genus so far known from only a few locations spanning the Indian and western Pacific Oceans. We present the morphological characters of each species and use molecular data from both DNA barcoding and target-enrichment of conserved elements to explore species boundaries and phylogenetic relationships within the genus.

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Staff publications

McFadden, Catherine S., Benayahu, Yehuda, & Samimi-Namin, K. (2024). A new genus of soft coral (Octocorallia, Malacalcyonacea, Cladiellidae) and three new species from Indo-Pacific coral reefs. ZooKeys, 1188, 275–304. doi:10.3897/zookeys.1188.110617