Putting incertae sedis taxa in their place: a proposal for ten new families and three new genera in Sphaeropleales (Chlorophyceae, Chlorophyta)



Best known for aquatic colonial algae such as Hydrodictyon, Pediastrum, or Scenedesmus, the order Sphaeropleales also contains numerous coccoid taxa from aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Recent findings indicate that coccoid lineages in this order are very diverse genetically and may be the prevalent form, although their diversity is often hidden morphologically. This study characterizes coccoid algae recently discovered from desert soil crusts that share morphological and ecological features with the genera Bracteacoccus, Pseudomuriella, and Chromochloris. Analyses of a multi-gene data set that includes members from all sphaeroplealean families are used to examine the monophyly of these morphologically similar taxa, which are shown instead to be phylogenetically distinct and very divergent. We propose new generic names for these lineages: Bracteamorpha, Rotundella, and Tumidella. In addition, we propose an updated family-level taxonomy within Sphaeropleales that includes ten new families of coccoid algae to accommodate the newly presented genera and many incertae sedis taxa in the order: Bracteamorphaceae, Chromochloridaceae, Dictyococcaceae, Dictyochloridaceae, Mychonastaceae, Pseudomuriellaceae, Rotundellaceae, Schizochlamydaceae, Schroederiaceae, and Tumidellaceae.