Viator vitreocola gen. et sp. nov. (Stylonematophyceae), a new red alga on drift glass debris in Oregon and Washington, USA

© 2019 The Korean Society of Phycology. A new encrusting red alga was found growing abundantly on glass debris items that drifted ashore along the coasts of Oregon and Washington. These included discarded fluorescent tubes, incandescent light bulbs, capped liquor bottles, and ball-shaped fishing-net floats. Field collections and unialgal cultures of the alga revealed that it consisted of two morphological phases: a young loosely aggregated turf and a mature consolidated mucilaginous crust. The turf phase consisted of a basal layer of globose cells that produced erect, rarely branched, uniseriate to multiseriate filaments up to 500 µm long with closely spaced cells lacking pit-plugs. These filaments expanded in size from their bases to their tips and released single cells as spores. At maturity, a second phase of growth occurred that produced a consolidated crust, up to 370 µm thick. It consisted of a basal layer of small, tightly appressed ellipsoidal-to-elongate cells that generated a mucilaginous perithallial matrix containing a second type of filament with irregularly spaced cells often undergoing binary division. At the matrix surface, the original filaments continued to grow and release spores but often also eroded. Individual cells, examined using confocal microscopy and SYBR Green staining, were found to contain a central nucleus, a single highly lobed peripheral chloroplast without a pyrenoid, and numerous chloroplast nucleoids. Morphological data from field and culture isolates and molecular data (rbcL, psbA, and SSU) show that this alga is a new genus and species which we name Viator vitreocola, “a traveller on glass.”