Systematics and genetic variation in commercial Kappaphycus and Eucheuma (Solieriaceae, Rhodophyta)
The systematics and taxonomy of Kappaphycus and Eucheuma (Solieriaceae) is confused and difficult due to morphological plasticity, lack of adequate characters to identify species and commercial names of convenience. These taxa are geographically widely dispersed through cultivation. Commercial, wild and herbarium sources were analysed; molecular markers provided insights into taxonomy and genetic variation, and where sources of genetic variation may be located. The mitochondrial cox2–3 and plastidal RuBisCo spacers were sequenced. There is a clear genetic distinction between K. alvarezii (“cottonii”) and K. striatum (“sacol”) samples. Kappaphycus alvarezii from Hawaii and some samples from Africa are also genetically distinct. Our data also show that all currently cultivated K. alvarezii from all over the world have a similar mitochondrial haplotype. Within Eucheuma denticulatum (“spinosum”) most African samples are again genetically distinct. Our data also suggest that currently cultivated E. denticulatum may have been “domesticated” several times, whereas this is not evident for the cultivated K. alvarezii. The present markers used do not distinguish all the morpho-types known in cultivation (e.g. var. tambalang, “giant” type) but do suggest that these markers may be useful to assess introductions and species identification in samples.
Key wordscox2-3 spacer Eucheuma genetic variation Kappaphycus RuBisCo spacer “sacol”
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