Gracilaria phuquocensis sp. nov., a new flattened Gracilaria species (Gracilariales, Rhodophyta), previously recognized as G. mammillaris, from the southern coast of Vietnam

© 2019 Japanese Society of Phycology Flattened Gracilaria species are widely distributed along the coasts of the South China Sea with more than 20 species recorded. Within the South China Sea, Gracilaria mammillaris has only been reported from Vietnam, but this species is likely restricted to the western Atlantic. This study aimed to reevaluate the taxonomic status of Vietnamese specimens of ‘G. mammillaris’ using combined morphological and molecular data. Our data clearly indicated that Vietnamese specimens were morphologically and genetically distinct from authentic G. mammillaris from the western Atlantic, and also other described flat Gracilaria species. We, therefore, propose that specimens from Vietnam originally identified as G. mammillaris be designated as a new species, Gracilaria phuquocensis sp. nov. Morphologically, G. phuquocensis can be distinguished from other flat Gracilaria species by its small thallus size, narrower blades, many medullary layers, abundant basal nutritive filaments within mature cystocarps, and tetrasporangial nemathecium. Our rbcL sequence analyses showed that the new species was sister to Gracilaria rhodymenioides from Thailand, and these two species formed a clade with cylindrical Gracilaria species. Our study contributes to clarification of the taxonomic status of misidentified specimens attributed to the flattened Gracilaria species in the South China Sea.