Fottea, 2015 (vol. 15), issue 1

Fottea 15(1): 95-104, 2015 | 10.5507/fot.2015.008

Ulvella tongshanensis (Ulvellaceae, Chlorophyta), a new freshwater species from China, and an emended morphological circumscription of the genus Ulvella

Huan Zhu1,2, Frederik Leliaert3, Zhi-Juan Zhao1,2, Shuang Xia4, Zheng-Yu Hu5, Guo-Xiang Liu1*
1 Key Laboratory of Algal Biology, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430072, P. R. China; *Corresponding author e-mail: liugx@ihb.ac.cn
2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, P. R. China
3 Marine Biology Research Group, Department of Biology, Ghent University, Krijgslaan 281-S8, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
4 College of Life Sciences, South-central University for Nationalities, Wuhan, 430074, P. R. China
5 State key Laboratory of Freshwater Ecology and Biotechnology, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430072, P. R. China

A new freshwater species of Ulvella, U. tongshanensis H. Zhu et G. Liu, is described from material collected from rocks under small waterfalls in Hubei Province, China. This unusual species differs from other species in the genus by the macroscopic and upright parenchymatous thalli, and by the particular habitat (most Ulvella species occur in marine environments). Phylogenetic analyses of plastid encoded rbcL and tufA, and nuclear 18S rDNA sequences, pointed towards the generic placement of U. tongshanensis and also showed a close relationship with two other freshwater species, Ulvella bullata (Jao) H. Zhu et G. Liu, comb. nov. and Ulvella prasina (Jao) H. Zhu et G. Liu, comb. nov. The latter two were previously placed in the genus Jaoa and are characterized by disc-shaped to vesicular morphology. Our study once again shows that traditionally used morphological characters are poor indicators for phylogenetic relatedness in morphologically simple algae like the Ulvellaceae. Thus, the morphological circumscription of the genus Ulvella is here expanded to include: (1) thalli that are uniseriate in basal and apical parts, and parenchymatous in the middle portion with distinct differentiation of an unbranched dorsal side and a ventral side developing many short branches, and (2) epibiotic or epilithic, disc-shaped to vesicular thalli with a di- or tristromatic structure.

Keywords: Jaoa, Morphology, New species, Phylogeny, Ulvales, Ulvellaceae, Ulvophyceae

Received: October 22, 2014; Accepted: December 9, 2014; Published: April 22, 2015

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