Sathyabama scientists discover new nemertean worm from Chennai’s Kovalam beach

A recent collaborative research between the Scientists of Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology, Chennai, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia and National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), Smithsonian Institution, USA have led to the discovery of a new species of nemertean worm (Tetrastemma freyae) (Figure).

The new worm was simultaneously discovered from both Hawaii (Oahu) and India (Chennai, especially from the rocky beach of Kovalam). The result was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal “Zootaxa”.

                                    Vignesh

“It took almost two years of extensive field work and microscopic examination of different species and specimens collected along the coast of Tamil Nadu (Chennai to Kanyakumari). The new species was identified based on the external and internal morphology combining with the DNA markers” said Mr. Vignesh, Research fellow, Sathyabama (inset photo) and Ms. Ruchi, Research fellow, IIT Madras (inset photo) who collected and identified the new worm species from Kovalam.

 “The nemertean worm under the genus Tetrastemma comprises of more than 110 species in the world, however, its diversity is poorly recorded in India. Intense field explorations are much needed to document the nemertean biodiversity in the Indian coastal waters. Moreover, based on the study, we have also standardized the identification characters of nemerteans for future studies” said Dr. Rajesh, Scientist at the Centre for Nanoscience and Nanomedicine Research Unit at Sathyabama.

                            Ruchi

“The genus Tetrastemma is such a complex species group and according to our data, tropical seas are inhabited by many nemertean species that remain to be discovered. The present study uses latest histology-free approach for identification of nemerteans. The species has been named after Ms. Freya Goetz of National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), Smithsonian Institution, USA in honor of  her several years of remarkable assistance towards the field as well as laboratory work at NMNH” said the lead author Dr. Alexei Chernyshev, Professor at the Russian Academy of sciences and Dr. J. L. Norenburg, Smithsonian Institution, USA.

Lastly, “the new species has been identified based on the integrative approach by combining both the morphology and DNA markers for the first time in Tetrastemma freyae. Thanks to the advancement in DNA based taxonomy which will help us to discover more complex species group in the Indian waters” said Dr. Prakash, Scientist at the Centre for Climate Change Studies, Sathyabama who is currently documenting the Kovalam coastal biodiversity along with his colleagues.