Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 13–29 | Cite as

Phylogenetic relationship of Kappaphycus Doty and Eucheuma J. Agardh (Solieriaceae, Rhodophyta) in Malaysia

  • Ji Tan
  • Phaik-Eem Lim
  • Siew-Moi Phang


The genera Kappaphycus Doty and Eucheuma J. Agardh are important sources of carrageenan in Malaysia, offering lucrative revenues to the carrageenan industry, economy, and the local community. The extensive range of morphotypes and the lack of distinct morphological characteristics led to the application of molecular systematics in elucidating this taxonomic confusion. Local varieties of Kappaphycus and Eucheuma, identified using putative external morphology, were analyzed using the mitochondrial cox2–3 spacer and plastid RuBisCO spacer molecular markers. Phylogenetic analysis of these and non-local specimens indicate that Kappaphycus and Eucheuma are genetically distinct. Three main genotypes of Kappaphycus alvarezii were identified, of which two are extant in Hawaii. Morphological and color variations are not supported by molecular data, indicating that most of the local names are not genetically based. Both the cox2–3 spacer and RuBisCO spacer generated phylogenetic trees with similar topology except in variation of nodal supports. The two markers showed clear separation between Kappaphycus and Eucheuma and the existence of three Malaysian Kappaphycus cultivars. Cox2–3 spacer data is more variable and provides better resolution than the RuBisCO spacer, showing that Kappaphycus is more diversified with a larger number of genotypes, strains, and species which are unique to Southeast Asia. Kappaphycus sp. “Aring-aring” appeared to be phenotypically and genotypically different from other Kappaphycus congeners, whereas Kappaphycus striatum exhibited two different genotypes. Our data indicate that Eucheuma denticulatum is the dominant species in Malaysian waters and also suggested paraphyly in Eucheuma which will require further studies. The application of molecular taxonomy on Malaysian Kappaphycus and Eucheuma proves useful, offering valuable insights into the taxonomy and distribution of these commercially important Rhodophytes.


Algae Taxonomy Phylogenetics Kappaphycus Eucheuma cox2–3 spacer RuBisCO spacer 



We would like to express our sincerest gratitude to the Department of Fisheries Sabah, Associate Prof. Dr. Suhaimi Md. Yasir, En. Adibi Rahiman bin Md. Nor, Japson Wong, and Mr Beh Wong King for their extensive help in seaweed collection. We are grateful to the University of Malaya and the Institute of Earth and Ocean Sciences (IOES) for providing research facilities. Special thanks to IOES members Song Sze Looi, Fiona Keng Seh Lin, Yu Chew Hock, Ng Poh Kheng, and Poong Sze Wan for technical support and advice. This project is funded by the Department of Fisheries Malaysia (Grant Number: 53-02-03-1062) and University of Malaya, PPP (Phylogenetic analysis of Kappaphycus spp. and Eucheuma spp. with the application of various molecular markers; grant number: PV014/2011A).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences (IOES)University of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia
  2. 2.Institute of Biological SciencesUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia

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