A comprehensive compilation of Iberian Medusozoan data: diversity, ecology, and omics insights

Rodrigues, T., Almeida, D., Guardiola, F.A., Borges, P.A.V. & Antunes, A. (2024) A comprehensive compilation of Iberian Medusozoan data: diversity, ecology, and omics insights. 

Regional Studies in Marine Science, 73, 103462. DOI:10.1016/j.rsma.2024.10346 (IF2022 2,1; Q3 Marine & Freshwater Biology)
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  • Mar, 2024


This study investigates the diversity and distribution of Medusozoa, a clade of the phylum Cnidaria, within the framework of the Iberian Peninsula and surrounding archipelagos. Medusozoa is notably recognized for encompassing jellyfish species with the capacity to exert detrimental ecological and socioeconomic impacts, this group of mostly marine organisms assumes a critical role in aquatic food webs and exhibits considerable biotechnological potential. A comprehensive dataset sourced from over 230 bibliographic references and public databases, comprising over 30,000 reports of Medusozoa in the Iberian region, reveals 593 species across the four medusozoan classes (549 hydrozoans, 37 scyphozoans, 5 staurozoans, and 2 cubozoans). Additionally, publicly available genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic metadata from the phylum Cnidaria are incorporated. The analyses highlight Hydrozoa as the most frequently reported and diverse class in the Iberian region. Specifically, the order Leptothecata exhibits the highest diversity, while Siphonophorae stands out as the most documented with Physalia physalis emerging as the highest reported species. Spatial distribution patterns reveal that holoplanktonic species are more widespread and abundant than their benthic and meroplanktonic counterparts. Furthermore, medusozoans with a free-swimming life form display greater diversity and dispersal compared to sessile species. The Northeast Atlantic section of the region demonstrates greater medusozoan diversity compared to the Mediterranean. Key findings also include information into invasive and introduced species, bloom-forming organisms, and edible species. A sustained trend of discovering new species of Medusozoa over time was observed, underscoring untapped exploration potential in the Iberian region. The study reveals a clear limitation of omics data in cnidarians, particularly in the Medusozoa clade. This research provides an overall perspective on medusozoans in the Iberian region, underlining the importance of additional omics studies while highlighting growing interest in exploring the biotechnological potential of these organisms. This research serves as a valuable resource for future investigations, providing insights into underexplored species and those with greater ecological and socioeconomic importance.