The relationship between three genera considered basal in the Chromodorididae (Cadlina, Tyrinna, Cadlinella) has not yet been resolved by traditional morphological means. Here we examined the sperm ultrastructure of Tyrinna nobilis, Tyrinna evelinae, Cadlina flavomaculata and Cadlina cf. nigrobranchiata, with the expectation of finding phylogenetically informative characters. No Tyrinna or Cadlina species showed sperm similarities to Cadlinella. Both Cadlina species and Tyrinna nobilis (but not T. evelinae) exhibited coarse striations in the acrosomal pedestal. The putative fibres that occurred between the coarse striations of the pedestal are condensed into a layer in Cadlina and Tyrinna, but not in other species that also have coarse striations (Gymnodoris), and may constitute evidence for a close relationship. Tyrinna evelinae possessed fine acrosomal striations, which was shared with other Chromodorididae, Actinocyclidae and the cryptobranchs Rostanga and Aphelodoris.
We also examined the sperm ultrastructure of ‘Chromodoris’ ambiguus, an animal which has shown molecular affinities to species of Cadlina, and not Chromodoris. The sperm of ‘C.’ ambiguus did not exhibit the typical Cadlina characteristics, but also showed important differences to other investigated Chromodoris species.