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Keywords:

  • Chattonella ;
  • Chattonellaceae;
  • Delaware Inland Bays;
  • Heterosigma ;
  • Raphidophyceae;
  • Viridilobus

Delaware's Inland Bays (DIB), USA, are subject to blooms of potentially harmful raphidophytes, including Heterosigma akashiwo. In 2004, a dense bloom was observed in a low salinity tributary of the DIB. Light microscopy initially suggested that the species was H. akashiwo; however, the cells were smaller than anticipated. 18S rDNA sequences of isolated cultures differed substantially from all raphidophyte sequences in GenBank. Phylogenetic analysis placed it approximately equidistant from Chattonella and Heterosigma with only ~96% sequence homology with either group. Here, we describe this marine raphidophyte as a novel genus and species, Viridilobus marinus (gen. et sp. nov.). We also compared this species with H. akashiwo, because both species are superficially similar with respect to morphology and their ecological niches overlap. V. marinus cells are ovoid to spherical (11.4 × 9.4 μm), and the average number of chloroplasts (4 per cell) is lower than in H. akashiwo (15 per cell). Pigment analysis of V. marinus revealed the presence of fucoxanthin, violaxanthin, and zeaxanthin, which are characteristic of marine raphidophytes within the family Chattonellaceae of the Raphidophyceae. TEM and confocal microscopy, however, revealed diagnostic microscopic and ultrastructural characteristics that distinguish it from other raphidophytes. Chloroplasts were in close association with the nucleus and thylakoids were arranged either parallel or perpendicular to the cell surface. Putative mucocysts were identified, but trichocysts were not observed. These features, along with DNA sequence data, distinguish this species from all other raphidophyte genera within the family Chattonellaceae of the Raphidophyceae.