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Morphological re-assessment of the Boodlea composita-Phyllodictyon anastomosans species complex (Siphonocladales : Chlorophyta)

Morphological re-assessment of the Boodlea composita-Phyllodictyon anastomosans species complex (Siphonocladales : Chlorophyta)

Australian Systematic Botany 20(2): 161-185

Boodlea composita ( Harvey) F. Brand and Phyllodictyon anastomosans ( Harvey) Kraft & M. J. Wynne, two widespread tropical siphonocladalean green algae, have had a long and confusing history because of the vague taxonomic boundaries between the two species. Molecular phylogenetic studies on the basis of nuclear- encoded rDNA sequences have resolved these indistinct species boundaries and suggest these taxa are part of a species complex. Detailed morphological investigations in combination with field and culture observations show that the concept of traditionally recognised taxa in this species complex is clouded by an ecologically induced phenotypic plasticity and developmental variability. Examination of a large number of specimens of B. composita, P. anastomosans and morphologically allied taxa including Boodlea siamensis Reinbold, Boodlea montagnei ( Harvey ex J. E. Gray) Egerod, Nereodictyon imitans Gerloff and Struveopsis siamensis ( Egerod) P. C. Silva, worldwide, including types, shows a wide morphological variety. We recognise seven more or less distinct morphological entities based on differences in thallus architectures, branching systems, cell dimensions and tenacular cell types. Awaiting the recovery of the true nature of the defined entities in this species complex ( different species or growth forms of the same species), they are referred to as morphotypes, i. e. making no assumptions as to which taxonomic level they best apply.

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