Research ArticleOCEANOGRAPHY

Nanocrystals as phenotypic expression of genotypes—An example in coralline red algae

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Science Advances  12 Feb 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 7, eaay2126
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay2126

Abstract

Coralline red algae (CRA) are important ecosystem engineers in the world’s oceans. They play key roles as primary food source and carbonate producers in marine habitats. CRA are also vital for modern reef systems where they act as substrate for coral growth and stabilizers of reef frameworks. However, morphotaxonomic identification of these important marine organisms is hampered by the fact that morphological concepts used for their classification do not correspond to molecular data. We present the first analysis of nanoscale features in calcified cell walls of CRA in a globally distributed sample set. We use new morphological traits based on these cell wall ultrastructures to construct an independent morphological phyletic tree that shows a promising congruency with existing CRA molecular phylogenies. Our results highlight cellular ultrastructures as a tool to define the phenotypic expression of genotypic information showing their potential to unify morphology with molecular phylogeny.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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