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Lobophora is a common tropical to temperate genus of brown algae found in a plethora of habitats including shallow and deep-water coral reefs, rocky shores, mangroves, seagrass beds and rhodoliths beds. Recent molecular studies have revealed that Lobophora species diversity has been severely underestimated. Current estimates of the species numbers range from 100-140 species with a suggested center of diversity in the Central Indo-Pacific. This study used three molecular markers (cox3, rbcL, psbA), different single-marker species delimitation methods (GMYC, ABGD, PTP), and morphological evidence to evaluate Lobophora species diversity in the Western Atlantic and the Eastern Pacific Oceans. Cox3 provided the greatest number of Primary Species Hypotheses, followed by rbcL and then psbA. GMYC species delimitation analysis was the most conservative across all three markers, followed by PTP, and then ABGD. The most informative diagnostic morphological characters were thallus thickness and number of cell layers in both the medulla and the dorsal/ventral cortices. Following a consensus approach, 14 distinct Lobophora species were identified in the Western Atlantic and five in the Eastern Pacific. Eight new species from these two oceans were herein described: L. adpressa sp. nov., L. cocoensis sp. nov., L. colombiana sp. nov., L. crispata sp. nov., L. delicata sp. nov., L. dispersa sp. nov., L. panamensis sp. nov., and L. tortugensis sp. nov. This study showed that the best approach to confidently identify Lobophora species is to analyze DNA sequences (preferably cox3 and rbcL) followed by comparative morphological and geographical assessment. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Journal of phycology
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