• Key index words: Antarctica;
  • Arthrocladia;
  • Biogeography;
  • Desmarestia;
  • evolution;
  • Himantothallus;
  • ITS;
  • rDNA;
  • Phaeophyceae;
  • Phaeurus;
  • phylogeny;
  • Southern Hemisphere;
  • temperature tolerance


Phylogenetic relationships in the Desmarestiales (Phaeophyceae) were inferred among the monotypic Arthrocladia (Arthrocladiaceae) and 27 isolates from Desmarestiaceae, representing 17 taxa of Desmarestia and the monotypic Antarctic genera Himantothallus and Phaeurus. Phaeurus and Arthrocladia were used as outgroups. Parsimony analyses of nuclear ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS1 and ITS2) sequences, in which gaps were both included and excluded, yielded well-resolved trees with a consistent general branching pattern. A parallel analysis of nine morphological and life-history characters and three ecological characters yielded a similar tree but provided little resolution in the terminal clades. The position of the monotypic Arthrocladia villosa within the Desmarestiales is consistent with monophyly for the order, but its position as the most primitive desmarestialean is not resolvable from the molecular data set. The basal position of Phaeurus, the Antarctic Desmarestia species, and Himantothallus is consistent with the hypothesis of a Southern Hemisphere origin for the family Desmarestiaceae. The more recent Northern Hemisphere “aculeata” clade evolved from an Antarctic ancestor. A “D. aculeata-like” species was ancestral to a lineage characterized by annual sporophytes with high sulfuric acid content, which radiated into many species, widely distributed in both hemispheres. Mapping of morphological and ecological characters onto the molecular tree confirm the informativeness of sulfuric acid-containing vacuoles and unilocular sporangial types. There is good congruence between phylogenetic tree topology and temperature impints in relation to biogeographic distribution, supporting the theory that temperature tolerance is a conservative trait.