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Keywords:

  • cryptic species;
  • polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism;
  • Pyropia yezoensis;
  • speciation

Summary

In a previous study on wild populations of Pyropia, the occurrence of two possible new species (Pyropia sp. 2 and Pyropia sp. 3) which are closely related to the two commercially important Pyropia species, P. yezoensis and P. tenera, was confirmed as the result of molecular phylogenetic analyses. To characterize the morphological features of the two wild Pyropia species, we collected Pyropia blades in a natural population in which Pyropia sp. 3 was known to occur, and carried out molecular identification before detailed morphological observations. Through the molecular identification we found, unexpectedly, that Pyropia sp. 2 blades grew sympatrically in the same site. Therefore, after molecular identification, we examined in detail the external morphology and anatomy of the two wild Pyropia species using more than 10 blades each. As a result, it is concluded that all of the blades of the two species are morphologically identical to P. yezoensis, but distinct from P. tenera. It is therefore considered that both of the two wild Pyropia species are cryptic species within the P. yezoensis complex. Furthermore, this study revealed that the two cryptic species grew sympatrically, even on the same rocks within the natural habitat.