Phylogenetic relationships and species circumscription in Trentepohlia and Printzina (Trentepohliales, Chlorophyta)

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2009 Aug;52(2):329-39. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2009.01.009.


Subaerial green microalgae represent a polyphyletic complex of organisms, whose genetic diversity is much higher than their simple morphologies suggest. The order Trentepohliales is the only species-rich group of subaerial algae belonging to the class Ulvophyceae and represents an ideal model taxon to investigate evolutionary patterns of these organisms. We studied phylogenetic relationships in two common genera of Trentepohliales (Trentepohlia and Printzina) by separate and combined analyses of the rbcL and 18S rRNA genes. Trentepohlia and Printzina were not resolved as monophyletic groups. Three main clades were recovered in all analyses, but none corresponded to any trentepohlialean genus as defined based on morphological grounds. The rbcL and 18S rRNA datasets provided congruent phylogenetic signals and similar topologies were recovered in single-gene analyses. Analyses performed on the combined 2-gene dataset inferred generally higher nodal support. The results clarified several taxonomic problems and showed that the evolution of these algae has been characterized by considerable morphological convergence. Trentepohlia abietina and T. flava were shown to be separate species from T. aurea; Printzina lagenifera, T. arborum and T. umbrina were resolved as polyphyletic taxa, whose vegetative morphology appears to have evolved independently in separate lineages. Incongruence between phylogenetic relationships and traditional morphological classification was demonstrated, showing that the morphological characters commonly used in the taxonomy of the Trentepohliales are phylogenetically irrelevant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bayes Theorem
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • Chlorophyta / classification
  • Chlorophyta / genetics*
  • DNA, Algal / genetics
  • DNA, Chloroplast / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genes, rRNA
  • Genetic Speciation*
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phylogeny*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / genetics
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Species Specificity


  • DNA, Algal
  • DNA, Chloroplast
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S