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Keywords:

  • Compsopogonophyceae;
  • Erythropeltidales;
  • Erythrotrichia;
  • molecular phylogeny;
  • Porphyrostromium;
  • Rhodophyta;
  • taxonomy

The phylogeny of morphologically simple algae is problematic due to insufficient morphological characters to aid in distinguishing species and relationships. The problem is further compounded because multiple evolutionary lineages of morphologically similar species occur in most well-sampled biogeographic locations; therefore, location cannot be used as a proxy for species. The phylogeny of the upright members of the Erythropeltidales is partially clarified by combining molecular data, unialgal culture observations, and worldwide sampling. Our results show that there are several well-supported lineages within the Erythropeltidales with only two morphologically recognizable taxa at present. The first is the genus Porphyrostromium, with a well-developed basal crust, which includes two Erythrotrichia species (Porphyrostromium ligulatum comb. nov. and Porphyrostromium pulvinatum comb. nov.). The second is the branched species Erythrotrichia welwitschii (Rupr.) Batters. There are also six strongly supported Erythrotrichia carnea–like lineages. While not completely satisfactory, we propose that one lineage (lineage 2) with samples close to the type locality be designated as E. carnea with a specific isolate as an epitype. The lack of morphology to differentiate the other lineages leads to a taxonomy based solely on gene sequencing and molecular phylogeny, with rbcL sequences differentiating the lineages proposed. We hold off on proposing more species and genera until more data and samples can be gathered.