, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 97-108
Date: 25 Feb 2011

Morphological and molecular characterization of free-floating and attached green macroalgae Ulva spp. in the Yellow Sea of China

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During the summer of 2008 and 2009, massive algal blooms repeatedly broke out in the Yellow Sea of China. These were undoubtedly caused by the accumulations of one or more species in the macroalgal genus Ulva. In previous reports, morphological observation indicated that the species involved in this phenomenon is Ulva prolifera but molecular analyses indicated that the species belongs to an Ulva linza–procera–prolifera (LPP) clade. Correct identification of the bloom species is required to understand and manage the blooms, but the taxonomic status of the bloom species remains unclear. In the current study, the taxonomic status of 22 selected specimens from the Yellow Sea was assessed by using both morphological and molecular (ITS and rbcL sequences) data. In addition, 5S rDNA analyses were performed for those samples clustering in the LPP clade, and phylogenetic tree and ribotype analyses were constructed for determining the possible origin of the bloom. Three free-floating and two attached Ulva species were distinguished and described: Ulva compressa Linnaeus and Ulva pertusa Kjellman were found in free-floating samples; U. linza Linnaeus was found on rocks; and U. prolifera O.F. Müller was found in both habitats. Diversity in free-floating Ulva of the Yellow Sea appears to be greater than previously thought. The dominant free-floating Ulva species, U. prolifera, was not closely related to local populations attached to rocks but was closely related to populations from Japan.