• molecular phylogeny;
  • morphology;
  • taxonomy;
  • Volvox ovalis sp. nov.;
  • Volvox sect. Merrillosphaera

Smith (1944) divided the familiar genus Volvox L. into four sections, placing seven species that lacked cytoplasmic bridges between adult cells in the section Merrillosphaera. Herein, we describe a new member of the section Merrillosphaera originating from Texas (USA): Volvox ovalis Pocock ex Nozaki et A. W. Coleman sp. nov. Asexual spheroids of V. ovalis are ovoid or elliptical, with a monolayer of 1,000–2,000 somatic cells that are not linked by cytoplasmic bridges, an expanded anterior region, and 8–12 gonidia in the posterior region. Visibly asymmetric cleavage divisions do not occur in V. ovalis embryos as they do Volvox carteri F. Stein, Volvox obversus (W. Shaw) Printz, and Volvox africanus G. S. West, so the gonidia of the next generation are not yet recognizable in V. ovalis embryos prior to inversion. Molecular phylogenetic analyses of the five chloroplast genes and the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions of nuclear rDNA indicated that V. ovalis is closely related to Volvox spermatosphaera Powers (Powers 1908, as “spermatosphara”) and/or Volvox tertius Art. Mey.; however, V. ovalis can be distinguished from V. spermatosphaera by its larger gonidia, and from V. tertius by visible differences in gonidial chloroplast morphology.