Difficulty in species identification of Sargassum (Sargassaceae, Fucales) is partly attributed to the high polymorphism among its individuals and populations. This study aimed at assessing morphological and genetic variations in two varieties, var. hemiphyllum J. Agardh and var. chinense J. Agardh, of Sargassum hemiphyllum (Turner) C. Agardh, a widely distributed species in the northwestern Pacific. We investigated 26 measurable, five numerical, and 33 categorical morphological parameters associated with different branching levels of specimens from each of six localities within its distribution range using cluster analysis (CA) and principal coordinate analysis (PCoA). Leaf size of the primary and secondary branching levels and the vesicle size of the secondary branches of the specimens examined were determined to be the most important morphological parameters that were significantly different among populations. Change in leaf and vesicle length of individuals among the six populations followed a latitudinal gradient, with smaller leaves and vesicles associated with northern populations and larger ones in the southern populations. The possible influence of the gradual change in sea surface temperatures (SSTs) along this gradient in the northwestern Pacific on leaf and vesicle morphologies of this species was suggested. PCR‐RFLP analysis of the RUBISCO spacer in the chloroplast genome revealed two distinct and highly homogenous clades, a China clade and a Japan‐Korea clade, which corresponded to var. chinense and var. hemiphyllum, respectively. The formation of refugia along the “Paleo‐coast” in the East China Sea during glacial periods is suggested to have led to the vicariance of ancestral populations of S. hemiphyllum and thus to have promoted genetic differentiation. The massive freshwater outflow of the Yellow and Yangtze rivers may continue to act as a barrier, prolonging the allopatric distribution of the two varieties. Copyright © 2008 Phycological Society of America.
CitationCheang, C. C., Chu, K. H., & Ang, P. O., Jr. (2008). Morphological and genetic variation in the populations of Sargassum hemiphyllum (Phaeophyceae) in the northwestern Pacific. Journal of Phycology, 44(4), 855-865. doi: 10.1111/j.1529-8817.2008.00532.x
- Allopatric distribution
- Glacial periods
- Morphological gradient
- Principal coordinate analysis
- Yangtze River
- Yellow River