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Keywords:

  • calcification;
  • dictyotales;
  • molecular phylogeny;
  • Newhousia gen.nov.;
  • phaeophyceae

An encrusting brown alga from subtidal habitats around the island of Oahu (Hawaiian Islands) represents only the second genus of the class Phaeophyceae to form calcium carbonate, which it deposits primarily as both extracellular and intracellular aragonite, admixed with small (3.3%) amounts of calcite. Plants form expanses 15–100+ cm in extent consisting of horizontally aligned imbricating tiers of distromatic blades 1–4 mm in diameter that are separated from one another by cementing layers of extracellular aragonite, the tiers forming stacks of dozens of laminae and anchored to coral substrata by a basement layer that adheres tightly without haptera or rhizoids. The hypodermal layer of each blade consists of lightly pigmented rectilinear cells bearing either one or two smaller deeply pigmented epidermal cells in cross-sectional profiles and three or four in long-sectional profiles, the cells of both layers becoming encased in rigid carbonate skeletons laid down in their outer wall matrices. The successive tiers become stacked by either overgrowing marginal proliferations or new blade primordia that arise from the hypodermal layer of surface laminae and initially spread centrifugally by means of continuous marginal meristems. Neither plurilocular nor unilocular reproductive structures are known. The alga is described as the new genus and species Newhousia imbricata Kraft, G.W. Saunders, Abbott et Haroun and is assigned on the basis of small subunit rDNA gene sequence analyses to the order Dictyotales, family Dictyotaceae, within a strongly supported monophyletic clade that includes Distromium, Lobophora, and Zonaria.