What is it about?

The common planktonic green algal genus Nephrocytium was traditionally assumed to have a close relationship with the genus Oocystis and accordingly has been included in the family Oocystaceae. Although the position of Nephrocytium within the Oocystaceae has differed according to some authors over the years, its inclusion in the family has not been questioned. Following molecular studies of Oocystis, the Oocystaceae (including Nephrocytium) was removed from the class Chlorophyceae and placed in the Trebouxiophyceae. However, recent molecular studies of some of the former Oocystaceae members have returned them to the Chlorophyceae. These studies suggested the placement of Nephrocytium in the Sphaeropleales, but no taxonomic positioning within the order has been determined for the genus. The relocation of Nephrocytium agrees with a strong morphological trait – it lacks the oocystaceaean multilayered ultrastructure of the cell wall. Based on molecular markers (18S rDNA and tufA), and optical and electron microscopy, the present study aimed to establish the relationships of the genus within the Sphaeropleales. Our results support the recognition of a new family, the Nephrocytiaceae, to accommodate Nephrocytium. Furthermore, we have carried out a review of previously described Nephrocytium species and based on morphological and molecular data we propose the description of Nephrocytium vieirae sp. nov.

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Why is it important?

Describing a new taxa is important not only for understanding and conserving the biodiversity but also for the development of industrial and biotech applications in general (for example, oil extraction or biodiesel production). Furthermore, with the application of massive parallel sequencing for understanding microalgae biodiversity worldwide, DNA sequences of taxonomic studies should be used as practical references for scientific studies, such as metabarcoding approaches, once there are few references for phytoplanktonic groups.

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This page is a summary of: Revised phylogenetic position of Nephrocytium Nägeli (Sphaeropleales, Chlorophyceae), with the description of Nephrocytiaceae fam. nov. and Nephrocytium vieirae sp. nov., Taxon, August 2021, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/tax.12560.
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