Tracking the invasive history of the green alga Codium fragile ssp. tomentosoides


Jim Provan. Tel.: + 44 28 90972280; Fax: + 44 28 90335877; E-mail:


The spread of nonindigenous species into new habitats is having a drastic effect on natural ecosystems and represents an increasing threat to global biodiversity. In the marine environment, where data on the movement of invasive species is scarce, the spread of alien seaweeds represents a particular problem. We have employed a combination of plastid microsatellite markers and DNA sequence data from three regions of the plastid genome to trace the invasive history of the green alga Codium fragile ssp. tomentosoides. Extremely low levels of genetic variation were detected, with only four haplotypes present in the species’ native range in Japan and only two of these found in introduced populations. These invasive populations displayed a high level of geographical structuring of haplotypes, with one haplotype localized in the Mediterranean and the other found in Northwest Atlantic, northern European and South Pacific populations. Consequently, we postulate that there have been at least two separate introductions of C. fragile ssp. tomentosoides from its native range in the North Pacific.