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Genetic Analyses Reveals New Species of Seaweed

International research group discovers new species of seaweed in Japan through genetic analyses of historic and modern specimens.

The Gloiopeltis genus was first thought to only have five related species was found that are over 10 in Japan alone. A new species, Gloiopeltis compressa, was found that in Okinawa and was previously confused with another species of Gloiopeltis.

The results of this research were published in the following journals; ‘Phycologia’ (October 14, 2019) and ‘Phycological Research’ (October 29, 2019).

Gloiopeltis is a genus of seaweed that is reddish brown to dark yellow in color. Called ‘funori’ in Japanese, it has been utilized to make glue and binding since ancient times. It is also used as an ingredient in miso soup.

The research was conducted by an international research collaboration group consisting of the following members from Kobe University; Assistant Professor Takeaki Hanyuda, Professor Hiroshi Kawai (both of the Research Center for Inland Seas) and Kensho Yamamura (2nd year master’s in biology at the Graduate School of Science).

The genetic analyses was able to identify certain species of the Gloiopeltis seaweed, G. complanata that was previously miscategorized as a separate species. Results showed that the separate species had genetic resemblance to a species that was described as Caulacanthus compressus in the 19th century. This then prompted the researchers to reinstate the species of Gloiopeltis compressa.

Further, the results also found that a species previously found in Korea – Gloiopeltis frutex – also grows around Kyushu in southern Japan. [APBN]