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DNA barcoding indicates a recent Lessepsian introduction of Asparagopsis taxiformis (Rhodophyta(; a new genetic lineage first described for the Mediterranean Sea
  • Omri nahor,
  • Tal Luzzatto-Knaan,
  • Israel Alvaro
Omri nahor
University of Haifa Leon H Charney School of Marine Sciences
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Tal Luzzatto-Knaan
University of Haifa
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Israel Alvaro
Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Asparagopsis taxiformis is a red marine macroalga (= seaweed) (Bonnemaisoniales, Rhodophyta) with high invasive potential and thrives worldwide. In the Mediterranean Sea, A. taxiformis was recorded before the opening of Suez Canal and since then two different cryptic lineages, named as L2 and L3, have been documented. As for the Israeli Mediterranean Sea (IMS), in the last 20 years, A. taxiformis benthic populations have seemingly expanded, with several large seasonal blooms recorded in recent years. However, neither ecology nor molecular substantial studies have been conducted. In this study, molecular identification using three genetic markers (LSU, cox2-3 spacer, and rbcL) was carried out on the overlooked IMS A. taxiformis revealing a cryptic lineage first recorded for the Mediterranean Sea, the so-called L4. Molecular comparative work of cox2-3 spacer indicates 100% similarity to previously sequenced samples from Egypt Red Sea cryptic linage L4. Further, IMS cox2-3 spacer differed from previously sequenced samples from the Mediterranean Sea by 2.3% and 3.9%, compared to L3 and L2 Mediterranean populations, respectively. Our results indicate that unlike former introductions of A. taxiformis into the Mediterranean Sea, the newly introduced lineage clearly appears to fit Lessepsian migration.