Taxonomic revision of the agaraceae with a description of Neoagarum gen. nov. and reinstatement of Thalassiophyllum
We confirmed the monophyly of the Agaraceae based on phylogenetic analyses of 6 mitochondrial and 6 chloroplast gene sequences from Agarum, Costaria, Dictyoneurum and Thalassiophyllum species as well as representative species from other laminarialean families. However, the genus Agarum was paraphyletic, comprising two independent clades, A. clathratum/A. turneri and A. fimbriatum/A. oharaense. The latter clade was genetically most closely related to Dictyoneurum spp., and morphologically the species shared a flattened stipe bearing fimbriae (potential secondary haptera) in the mid to upper portion. The phylogenetic position of Thalassiophyllum differed between the two datasets: in the chloroplast gene phylogeny Thalassiophyllum was included in the A. clathratum/A. turneri clade, but in the mitochondrial gene phylogeny, it formed an independent clade at the base of the Agaraceae, the same position it took in the phylogeny when the data from both genomes were combined despite a larger number of bp being contributed by the chloroplast gene sequences. Considering the remarkable morphological differences between Thalassiophyllum and other Agaraceae, and the molecular support, we conclude that Thalassiophyllum should be reinstated as an independent genus. Dictyoneurum reticulatum was morphologically distinguishable from D. californicum due to its midrib, but because of their close genetic relationship, further investigations are needed to clarify species level taxonomy. In summary, we propose the establishment of a new genus Neoagarum to accommodate A. fimbriatum and A. oharanese and the reinstatement of the genus Thalassiophyllum.