Authors: Santana-Cisneros, Mariana L., Rodríguez-Canul, Rossanna, Zamora-Briseño, Jesús Alejandro, Améndola-Pimenta, Monica, De Silva-Dávila, Roxana, Ordóñez-López, Uriel, Velázquez-Abunader, Iván y Ardisson, Pedro-Luis
Paralarvae (PL) are crucial to understanding the life cycle and population dynamics of cephalopods. Misidentification of species with similar morphology is a problem that hampers understanding of cephalopod composition and distribution. In this study, we used morphological and molecular approaches to carry out a comprehensive identification of Octopoda PL that inhabit two main areas (Tamaulipas and Yucatán) in the southern Gulf of Mexico (GoM). A total of 189 paralarvae were identified using morphological criteria. Of these, 52 PL were analyzed molecularly by sequencing the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene. We identified four species and five morphotypes. The molecular tools corroborated three of four species, while the molecular sequences of three out of four morphotypes indicated that they belong to three different species. All the genetic sequences had high similarities (99.3%–100%) with previous records. One species and one morphotype could not be sequenced because of unsatisfactory fixation; one morphotype remained as such after the molecular analysis. An identification tree was constructed for the species identified with the molecular approach. The species found off the Yucatán platform were Octopus vulgaris Type I, Octopus americanus, Macrotritopus defilippi, Amphioctopus burryi, A. cf. burryi, Octopus sp., and Callistoctopus furvus. The species identified off the Tamaulipas coast were Octopus insularis and M. defilippi. Paralarvae of O. vulgaris Type I and M. defilippi were the most abundant during 2016–2017. This study provides the first record of Octopoda PL in the southern GoM, including morphological descriptions and molecular sequences of the analyzed taxa.