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

Oct 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: Genetic study shows major impact of climate change on Antarctic fur seals

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.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Fadang photo makes the cover of major botanical journal

Jul 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 o ...

Guam rhino beetles got rhythm

Apr 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 ...

Recommended for you

Noise pollution impacts fish species differently

16 minutes ago

Acoustic disturbance has different effects on different species of fish, according to a new study from the Universities of Bristol and Exeter which tested fish anti-predator behaviour.

Invertebrate numbers nearly halve as human population doubles

16 minutes ago

Invertebrate numbers have decreased by 45% on average over a 35 year period in which the human population doubled, reports a study on the impact of humans on declining animal numbers. This decline matters because of the enormous ...

Insecticides similar to nicotine widespread in Midwest

1 hour ago

Insecticides similar to nicotine, known as neonicotinoids, were found commonly in streams throughout the Midwest, according to a new USGS study. This is the first broad-scale investigation of neonicotinoid ...

User comments : 0