Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. Diego Figueroa

Second Advisor

Dr. David Hicks

Third Advisor

Dr. Richard Kline


The use of genetics in recent years has brought to light the need to reevaluate the classification of many gorgonian octocorals. In 2017, Poliseno et al. conducted a comprehensive, phylogenetic study of the genus Leptogorgia and found that it, too, was in need of taxonomic revision. To expand on their study, 25 samples representing two Leptogorgia species—L virgulata and L. hebes —from the northwestern Gulf of Mexico (GOM) were examined. Ten novel, complete mitochondrial genomes were sequenced using Next Generation sequencing and 24 novel mtMutS sequences were obtained from both species. The phylogenies reconstructed from these sequences indicate the need to redefine the genus Leptogorgia in its entirety. Fossil calibrated divergence times were also estimated using a multiple gene approach. The resulting divergence estimates were much more recent than those estimated previously.


Copyright 2018 Samantha Silvestri. All Rights Reserved.