Currently, five genera are assigned to red seaweeds of the Laurencia complex worldwide: Chondrophycus, Laurencia s.s., Osmundea, Palisada and Yuzurua. The genera are segregated on the basis of morphological characters, especially the reproductive traits, and molecular sequences of the plastid-encoded gene rbcL. Four of the genera have been resolved as monophyletic, but not Laurencia s.s. In this study based on an rbcL gene phylogeny we show the presence of a sixth lineage within the Laurencia complex, viz., Laurencia marilzae plus two unidentified species of Laurencia from Brazil. The phylogenetic position of this group, combined with the high genetic divergence from Laurencia s.s. (8.2–11%), strongly support the establishment of a sixth genus for the complex, proposed here as Laurenciella gen. nov. This new taxon differs from Laurencia s.s. and from the other genera of the complex by molecular sequence data, but is indistinguishable from Laurencia s.s. by the usual morphological features.
©2012 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston