• 16S rDNA;
  • Africa;
  • Anabaena;
  • Cyanobacteria;
  • Cylindrospermopsis;
  • hetR;
  • nifH;
  • Nostocaceae;
  • phylogeny;
  • rpoC1

To date, phylogenies have been based on known gene sequences accessible at GenBank, and the absence of many cyanobacterial lineages from collections and sequence databases has hampered their classification. Investigating new biotopes to isolate more genera and species is one way to enrich strain collections and subsequently enhance gene sequence databases. A polyphasic approach is another way of improving our understanding of the details of cyanobacterial classification. In this work, we have studied phylogenetic relationships in strains isolated from freshwater bodies in Senegal and Burkina Faso to complement existing morphological and genetic databases. By comparing 16S rDNA sequences of African strains to those of other cyanobacteria lineages, we placed them in the cyanobacterial phylogeny and confirmed their genus membership. We then focused on the Nostocaceae family by concatenated analysis of four genes (16S rDNA, hetR, nifH, and rpoC1 genes) to characterize relationships among Anabaena morphospecies, in particular, Anabaena sphaerica var. tenuis G. S. West. Using a polyphasic approach to the Nostocaceae family, we demonstrate that A. sphaerica var. tenuis is more closely related to Cylindrospermospsis/Raphidiopsis than to other planktonic Anabaena/Aphanizomenon. On the basis of phylogeny and morphological data, we propose that these three significantly different clusters should be assigned to three genera.