Taxonomic identification of algae (morphological and molecular): species concepts, methodologies, and their implications for ecological bioassessment

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Journal of Phycology


Algal taxonomy is a key discipline in phycology and is critical for algal genetics, physiology, ecology, applied phycology, and particularly bioassessment. Taxonomic identification is the most common analysis and hypothesis-testing endeavor in science. Errors of identification are often related to the inherent problem of small organisms with morphologies that are difficult to distinguish without research-grade microscopes and taxonomic expertise in phycology. Proposed molecular approaches for taxonomic identification from environmental samples promise rapid, potentially inexpensive, and more thorough culture-independent identification of all algal species present in a sample of interest. Molecular identification has been used in biodiversity and conservation, but it also has great potential for applications in bioassessment. Comparisons of morphological and molecular identification of benthic algal communities are improved by the identification of more taxa; however, automated identification technology does not allow for the simultaneous analysis of thousands of samples. Currently, morphological identification is used to verify molecular taxonomic identities, but with the increased number of taxa verified in algal gene libraries, molecular identification will become a universal tool in biological studies. Thus, in this report, successful application of molecular techniques related to algal bioassessment is discussed.


Biological and Environmental Sciences

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