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Molecular ecological studies of New England species of Porphyra (Rhodophyta, Bangiales)

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Using a combination of morphological, ecological, and molecular methods, the seasonal occurrence and abundance of Porphyra species (Rhodophyta, Bangiales) were evaluated at an open coastal (Fort Stark) and an estuarine tidal rapids site (Dover Point) in New Hampshire, U.S.A. Monthly assessments of presence or absence of the different species, as well as percentage cover, biomass, and mean frond length were made for a year (July 1998-June 1999) on transect lines within the high and low intertidal zones at both sites. Seven species of Porphyra were recorded based upon morphological evaluations and these identifications were confirmed by screening for variation in the ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase large subunit gene (rbcL) with a restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) assay. Four species were found on the transects (Porphyra 'leucosticta', P. 'miniata', P. 'purpurea', and P. 'umbilicalis') and two others (P. 'amplissima' and P. 'linearis') were collected during random sampling of adjacent habitats. A seventh introduced North Pacific species (P. 'yezoensis'), which had previously been confused with P. 'leucosticta', was found on transects at Dover Point. Its DNA sequence showed 100% identity for nuclear ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS1) of strain NA4 of P. 'yezoensis' (GenBankAB017076). The rbcL sequence of the Dover Point material was also 100% identical to P. 'yezoensis' forma narawaensis cultivar F-6 (GenBank AB118590). Taken together these sequence data confirm that the Dover Point material is P. 'yezoensis'.

Conspicuous spatial and temporal patterns were recorded for several populations of Porphyra. The high intertidal zone at Fort Stark was dominated throughout the year by the aseasonal annual P. 'umbilicalis', while the low intertidal at the same site had a distinct summer maximum consisting of P. 'leucosticta' and P. 'umbilicalis'. By contrast, P. 'umbilicalis' and P. 'purpurea' dominated the high intertidal zone at Dover Point, except during winter-early spring months when P. 'yezoensis' was most conspicuous. Porphyra 'purpurea' and P. 'yezoensis' were most abundant within the low intertidal zone at Dover Point, with the former plant being present almost year round and the latter having a distinct winter-early spring maximum. The mean lengths of P. 'umbilicalis', P. 'leucosticta' and P. 'purpurea' were largest during summer and, when present, smallest in winter.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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  • Nova Hedwigia is an international journal publishing original, peer-reviewed papers on current issues of taxonomy, morphology, ultrastructure and ecology of all groups of cryptogamic plants, including cyanophytes/cyanobacteria and fungi. The half-tone plates in Nova Hedwigia are known for their high quality, which makes them especially suitable for the reproduction of photomicrographs and scanning and transmission electron micrographs.
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