Generic concept in Chlorella-related coccoid green algae (Chlorophyta, Trebouxiophyceae)
Using a combined set of sequences of SSU and ITS regions of nuclear-encoded ribosomal DNA, the concept of the experimental algal genus Chlorella was evaluated. Conventionally in the genus Chlorella, only coccoid, solitary algae with spherical morphology that do not possess any mucilaginous envelope were included. All Chlorella species reproduce asexually by autospores. However, phylogenetic analyses showed that within the clade of ‘true’Chlorella species (Chlorella vulgaris, C. lobophora, and C. sorokiniana), taxa with a mucilaginous envelope and colonial lifeform have also evolved. These algae, formerly designated as Dictyosphaerium, are considered as members of the genus Chlorella. In close relationship to Chlorella, five different genera were supported by the phylogenetic analyses: Micractinium (spherical cells, colonial, with bristles), Didymogenes (ellipsoidal cells, two-celled coenobia, with or without two spines per cell), Actinastrum (ellipsoidal cells within star-shaped coenobia), Meyerella (spherical cells, solitary, without pyrenoids), and Hegewaldia (spherical cells, colonial, with or without bristles, oogamous propagation). Based on the secondary structures of SSU and ITS rDNA sequences, molecular signatures are provided for each genus of the Chlorella clade.
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