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Advancing the taxonomy of economically important red seaweeds (Rhodophyta).

Lim, P.E., Yang, L.E., Tan, J., Maggs, C. and Brodie, J., 2017. Advancing the taxonomy of economically important red seaweeds (Rhodophyta). European Journal of Phycology, 52 (4), 438 - 451.

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DOI: 10.1080/09670262.2017.1365174


© 2017 British Phycological Society. The cultivation of red seaweeds for food (nori), agar and carrageenans is the basis of a valuable industry. However, taxonomic knowledge of these cultivated seaweeds and their wild relatives has not kept pace with advances in molecular systematics despite the fundamental importance of being able to identify commercially important species and strains, discover cryptic and endemic taxa and recognize non-native species with potentially damaging diseases and epiphytes. This review focuses on molecular taxonomic advances in the cultivated red algae with the highest commercial value globally: Eucheuma and Kappaphycus, Porphyra sensu lato and Gracilaria. All three groups are similarly taxonomically challenging: speciose, morphologically plastic, with poorly resolved species boundaries. Eucheuma and Kappaphycus are frequently misidentified and the molecular markers cox2-3 spacer, cox1 and RuBisCO spacer have helped in understanding phylogenetic relationships and identifying new species and haplotypes. In Porphyra sensu lato (Bangiales) species identification and phylogenetic relationships were highly problematic until a taxonomic revision based on a two-gene phylogeny (18S and rbcL) resulted in nine genera of bladed species. Pyropia, with at least 89 species, three in nori cultivation, has potential for new commercial evaluation. In Gracilaria sensu lato, earlier efforts to resolve species-level taxonomy and generic descriptions were superseded by application of molecular tools, including DNA sequences of the RuBisCO spacer, rbcL gene, 18S and the ITS region. Studies of these cultivated red algal genera highlight the need for a robust taxonomy, a more standardized approach to the molecular markers used and a comprehensive dataset for each representative species. Current work on DNA-based species delimitation, the emergence of high throughput sequencing, multi-gene phylogenies, publication of whole genomes (e.g. Porphyra umbilicalis) and genomes in the pipeline (e.g. Gracilaria) are increasingly improving our understanding of phylogenomic relationships and species relationships. This knowledge, in turn, can then be applied to improving red seaweed aquaculture.

Item Type:Article
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:30041
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:27 Nov 2017 15:21
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:08


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