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DISCRIMINATIVE POWER OF NUCLEAR rDNA SEQUENCES FOR THE DNA TAXONOMY OF THE DINOFLAGELLATE GENUS PERIDINIUM (DINOPHYCEAE)

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  • Received 5 October 2009. Accepted 6 October 2010.

Abstract

The genus Peridinium Ehrenb. comprises a group of highly diversified dinoflagellates. Their morphological taxonomy has been established over the last century. Here, we examined relationships within the genus Peridinium, including Peridinium bipes F. Stein sensu lato, based on a molecular phylogeny derived from nuclear rDNA sequences. Extensive rDNA analyses of nine selected Peridinium species showed that intraspecies genetic variation was considerably low, but interspecies genetic divergence was high (>1.5% dissimilarity in the nearly complete 18S sequence; >4.4% in the 28S rDNA D1/D2). The 18S and 28S rDNA Bayesian tree topologies showed that Peridinium species grouped according to their taxonomic positions and certain morphological characters (e.g., epithecal plate formula). Of these groups, the quinquecorne group (plate formula of 3′, 2a, 7″) diverged first, followed by the umbonatum group (4′, 2a, 7″) and polonicum group (4′, 1a, 7″). Peridinium species with a plate formula of 4′, 3a, 7″ diverged last. Thus, 18S and 28S rDNA D1/D2 sequences are informative about relationships among Peridinium species. Statistical analyses revealed that the 28S rDNA D1/D2 region had a significantly higher genetic divergence than the 18S rDNA region, suggesting that the former as DNA markers may be more suitable for sequence-based delimitation of Peridinium. The rDNA sequences had sufficient discriminative power to separate P. bipes f. occultaum (Er. Lindem.) M. Lefèvre and P. bipes f. globosum Er. Lindem. into two distinct species, even though these taxa are morphologically only marginally discriminated by spines on antapical plates and the shape of red bodies during the generation of cysts. Our results suggest that 28S rDNA can be used for all Peridinium species to make species-level taxonomic distinctions, allowing improved taxonomic classification of Peridinium.

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