Looks like turtle weed, but it's not: Molecular tools aid in identification of new algae species

October 10, 2012
Rhipilia coppejansii, a newly described species of algae found in the waters of Guam, forms green tufts at the base of coral colonies. Credit: Tom Shils

Newly described species points to richer marine biodiversity in Guam waters than previously understood.

University of Guam Marine Lab scientist, Tom Shils and coauthor Heroen Verbruggen of the University of Melbourne have recently published an article describing a new species of algae found in the waters of Guam. Rhipilia coppejansii is the fifth green alga described from the Mariana Islands and the first one since 1978. "The molecular tools that aided its identification also reveal that previously undetected biodiversity abounds in the marine algal flora of Guam, which is an integral part of the island's natural heritage in which its people and their culture are deeply rooted," says Shils.

This newly described species was found in the waters off the west coast of Guam collected from the Piti Bomb Holes area. In general appearance it is similar to Turtle Weed (Chlorodesmis) as both algae form green tufts at the base of , but under the microscope Rhipilia's fascinating structure revealed itself.

"Our paper exemplifies the large amount of hidden (cryptic) diversity that we've recently been discovering in our marine flora. Molecular tools reveal that the of algae has been greatly underestimated for our islands," says Shils.

University of Guam researchers provide an invaluable service for understanding the marine and of the island and the region.

Explore further: Gulf of Maine census surprises scientists

More information: Verbruggen H. & Schils T. 2012. Rhipilia coppejansii, a new coral reef-associated species from Guam (Bryopsidales, Chlorophyta). Journal of Phycology 48: 1090-1098.

Related Stories

Guam rhino beetles got rhythm

April 14, 2009

In May 2008 the island of Guam became a living laboratory for scientists as they attached acoustic equipment to coconut trees in order to listen for rhinoceros beetles. A grant from USDA IPM allowed Richard Mankin, a recognized ...

Fadang photo makes the cover of major botanical journal

July 29, 2011

The research efforts of University of Guam scientist Thomas Marler have put Guam's endangered native cycad, Cycas micronesica (fadang is the Chamorro name) on the cover of the June 2011 International Journal of Plant Sciences ...

Recommended for you

Researchers design first artificial ribosome

July 29, 2015

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University have engineered a tethered ribosome that works nearly as well as the authentic cellular component, or organelle, that produces all the proteins ...

Studies reveal details of error correction in cell division

July 29, 2015

Cell biologists led by Thomas Maresca at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with collaborators elsewhere, report an advance in understanding the workings of an error correction mechanism that helps cells detect and ...

Researchers discover new type of mycovirus

July 29, 2015

Researchers, led by Dr Robert Coutts, Leverhulme Research Fellow from the School of Life and Medical Sciences at the University of Hertfordshire, and Dr Ioly Kotta-Loizou, Research Associate at Imperial College, have discovered ...

Stressed out plants send animal-like signals

July 29, 2015

University of Adelaide research has shown for the first time that, despite not having a nervous system, plants use signals normally associated with animals when they encounter stress.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.