• 16S rRNA;
  • cytochrome c oxidase subunit-I;
  • Coleoidea;
  • cryptic diversity;
  • DNA barcoding


Coleoids are part of the Cephalopoda class, which occupy an important position in most oceans both at an ecological level and at a commercial level. Nevertheless, some coleoid species are difficult to distinguish with traditional morphological identification in cases when specimens are heavily damaged during collection or when closely related taxa are existent. As a useful tool for rapid species assignment, DNA barcoding may offer significant potential for coleoid identification. Here, we used two mitochondrial fragments, cytochrome c oxidase I and the large ribosomal subunit (16S rRNA), to assess whether 34 coleoids accounting for about one-third of the Chinese coleoid fauna could be identified by DNA barcoding technique. The pairwise intra- and interspecific distances were assessed, and relationships among species were estimated by NJ and Bayesian analyses. High levels of genetic differentiation within Loliolus beka led to an overlap between intra- and interspecific distances. All remaining species forming well-differentiated clades in the NJ and Bayesian trees were identical for both fragments. Loliolus beka possessed two mitochondrial lineages with high levels of intraspecific distances, suggesting the occurrence of cryptic species. This study confirms the efficacy of DNA barcoding for identifying species as well as discovering cryptic diversity of Chinese coleoids. It also lays a foundation for other ecological and biological studies of Coleoidea.