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Keywords:

  • 18S rRNA;
  • Chlorococcales;
  • Chlorophyta;
  • Dictyochloropsis reticulata;
  • Friedmannia;
  • lichen algae;
  • Microthamniales;
  • molecular evolution;
  • Myrmecia;
  • Pleurastrophyceae;
  • ribosomal RNA;
  • Trebouxiaceae fam nov.;
  • Trebouxiales ord. nov.;
  • Trebouxiophyceae cl. nov

ABSTRACT

Complete nuclear-encoded small-subunit ribosomal RNA (18S rRNA) coding sequences were determined for the coccoid green algae Dictyochloropsis reticulata (Tschermak-Woess) Tschermak-Woess, Myrmecia astigmatica Vinatzer, and M. bisecta Reisigl, to investigate the taxonomic position of Dictyochloropsis Geitler and of the genus Myrmecia Printz. Phylogenies inferred from these data revealed a sister-group relationship between D. reticulata and certain coccoid green algae that lack motile stages (autosporic coccoids) within the order Microthamniales. The monophyletic origin of the Microthamniales, including autosporic coccoids previously classified in the Chlorophyceae, is clearly resolved by the rRNA sequence data. This finding. shows the considerable taxonomic breadth of that order, whose taxonomic position has been unclear so far. A new class, Trebouxiophyceae, is proposed for this group of green algae. Phylogenetic inferences from the rRNA sequences show paraphyly of the genus Myrmecia. The 18S rRNA sequence data suggest that, among taxa that share similar vegetative cell morphologies, the zoospore characters resolve better the actual genus and species boundaries. Within identical zoospore types, the rRNA data allow further resolution of taxonomic relationships. On the basis of the.se findings, I propose that the genus Friedmannia Chantanachat ± Bold be merged into Myrmecia and that only those species be left in the genus Myrmecia that are identical in particular zoospore characters (i.e. those described in detail for M. israeliensis (Chantanachat ± Bold) comb, nov.), namely M. astigmatica, M. biatorellae (Tschermak-Woess ± Ptesst) Petersen, and M. israeliensis. Myrmecia bisecta has to be excluded from Myrmecia; its taxonomic position within the Trebouxiophyceae is unclear.