Zachsia zenkewitschi (Teredinidae), a rare and unusual seagrass boring bivalve revisited and redescribed

J. R. Shipway, R. O’Connor, D. Stein, S. M. Cragg, T. Korshunova, A. Martynov, T. Haga, D. L. Distel

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The sea-grass borer Zachsia zenkewitschi belongs to a group of economically and ecologically important bivalves, commonly referred to as shipworms. The sole recognized representative of the genus Zachsia, this species displays an unusual life history and reproductive strategy that is now understood to include: environmental sex determination of free swimming larvae, extreme sexual and size dimorphism between males and females, internal fertilization, maintenance of often large harems of male dwarfs within a specialized cavity of the female mantle, and complex maternal care of larvae in specialized brood pouches within the gill. It is also the only shipworm species known to burrow in sea grass rhizomes rather than terrestrial wood. Although Z. zenkewitschi is rare and little studied, understanding of its biology and anatomy has evolved substantially, rendering some aspects of its original description inaccurate. Moreover, no existing type specimens are known for this species. In light of these facts, we designate a neotype from among specimens recently collected at the type location, and undertake a re-description of this species, accounting for recent reinterpretation of its life history and functional anatomy.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0155269
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2016


  • RCUK
  • BB/L001926/1


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