Being green in the Red Sea - the photosymbiotic ascidian Diplosoma simile (Ascidiacea: Didemnidae) in the Gulf of Aqaba

The photosymbiotic ascidian Diplosoma simile is characterized by a wide global distribution. The current study provides the first record of D. simile in the Red Sea, with remarks on its spatial distribution and phylogeny. Partial COI and 18S rDNA sequences of D. simile from the Red Sea revealed high similarity to those from the West Pacific, indicating a much broader range than previously recorded. In the Red Sea D. simile is common on natural coral reefs at depths ranging from 1–35 m. Diplosoma simile colonies were found to overgrow and would appear to suffocate several species of live stony corals, though this does not appear to cause mass coral mortality in the Red Sea, unlike that recorded in other locations.