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Mychodea and the family Mychodeaceae (Gigartinales, Rhodophyta) revisited: molecular analyses shed light on interspecies relationships in Australia’s largest endemic algal genus and family
The red alga Mychodea is not only Australia’s largest wholly endemic macroalgal genus, it and the family Mychodeaceae (of which it is the sole member) appear to be the largest completely endemic algal genus and family from any continental landmass in the world. Kraft’s 1978 morpho-taxonomic monograph credited Mychodea with 11 species varyingly distributed between the Geraldton, Western Australia, south and eastward across the coasts of South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and northwards to southern New South Wales. Dismissed or discounted was every former extra-Australian attribution of the genus. In the over 40 years since completion of the research, further explorations of subtidal habitats in Australia have uncovered additional species, and the additional application molecular-assisted taxonomic and phylogenetic methodologies has now allowed a substantial refinement of Mychodea systematics. We here document 19 Mychodea species, for 16 of which we have molecular data that support inferences of probable species relationships. To the 11 species treated by Kraft we now add four that are recently discovered, resurrect two that were synonymized with a third species in the 1978 work, and treat two species-level Western Australian entities which remain unnamed for lack of sufficient material. Mychodea is characterized by elaborate vegetative structures and some of the most complex fertilization, diploidization and embryogenesis processes of any red alga, which we detail and illustrate. Distinguishing features of the individual species are highlighted, some of which are particularly unusual.
SB16058 Accepted 07 July 2017
© CSIRO 2017