The diversity of hydras (Cnidaria: Hydridae) in the Baikal region

  • Peretolchina T.E. 1
  • Khanaev I.V. 1
  • Kravtsova L.S. 1
  • 1 Limnological Institute, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Ulan-Batorskaya Str., 3, Irkutsk, 664033, Russia
Keywords: Baikal region, Hydra, nematocysts, molecular phylogenetic analysis


We have studied the fauna of Hydra the waters of the Baikal region using morphological and molecular genetic methods. By the external morphological features of the structure of the polyp and the microscopic study of nematocysts, we have identified four species belonging to three different genetic groups: “oligactis group” (Hydra oligactis, H. oxycnida), “braueri group” (H. circumcincta) and “vulgaris group” (H. vulgaris). Molecular phylogenetic analysis has confirmed the species status of the hydras studied. The intraspecific genetic distances between the Baikal and European hydras are 1.5–4.2% and 0.4–2.7% of the substitutions in COI and ITS1–5.8S–ITS2 markers, respectively, while, interspecific distances for different species significantly exceed intraspecific and amount to 9.8−16.1% and 6.4−32.1% of substitutions for the markers COI and ITS1–5.8S–ITS2, respectively. The temperature regime of the water and the availability of food resources, which play a key role in the reproduction of hydras, determine the habitats of the identified species. The research performed has replenished the regional fauna with species whose findings were previously considered presumptive or doubtful. The first record of H. vulgaris in the artificial reservoir near the Angara River (Lake Kuzmikhinskoye) will help to clarify the distribution of this species.