GENETIC AND MORPHOLOGICAL IDENTIFICATION OF FUCUS RADICANS SP. NOV. (FUCALES, PHAEOPHYCEAE) IN THE BRACKISH BALTIC SEA

Authors


  • 1Received 12 October 2004. Accepted 10 June 2005.

Abstract

Brown seaweeds of the genus Fucus occupy a wide variety of temperate coastal habitats. The genus is evolutionary dynamic with recent radiations to form morphologically distinct taxa. In the brackish Baltic Sea, fucoids are the only perennial canopy-forming macroalgae. The most northern populations of Fucus occur permanently submerged in extremely low salinity (3–5 psu). These are currently referred to as Fucus vesiculosus L. but are morphologically distinct with a narrow frond without bladders. We report here that a population of this unique morphotype is reproductively isolated from a truly sympatric population of common F. vesiculosus and conclude that the northern morphotype represents a previously undescribed species. We describe Fucus radicans sp. nov., which is attached and dioecious with broadly elliptic receptacles, characterized by a richly branched narrow flat frond (2–5 mm), short thallus (<26 cm), and a high capacity for vegetative recruitment of attached plants. Analysis of five highly polymorphic microsatellite DNA loci showed genetic differentiation between sympatric populations of F. radicans and F. vesiculosus, whereas allopatric populations of the same species revealed a coherent pattern of genetic variation. Sequences of the RUBISCO region in F. radicans were identical to or differing at only one to two dinucleotide positions from those of F. vesiculosus, indicating a recent common origin of the two species.

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