Specimens of red algae corresponding to the peyssonnelioid genus Sonderophycus were collected at Kure Atoll, Hawai‘i, at a depth range of 88–94 m depth during mesophotic surveys of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, Hawaiian Islands, and were analyzed using morphological and molecular approaches. Analyses of mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 and chloroplast rbcL DNA sequences demonstrated that the Hawaiian specimens were identical to one another yet distinct from the three other species currently recognized within the genus (S. capensis [Montagne] M. J. Wynne, S. coriaceus [Womersley & Sinkora] M. J. Wynne, and S. fervens Dixon), as well as the likely congener, Peyssonnelia caulifera Okamura, and are proposed here as a new species: Sonderophycus copusii A. R. Sherwood. Sonderophycus copusii is morphologically distinct from other members of the genus by the following combination of characters: the presence of occasional secondary perithallial growth, emergence of rhizoids from the hypobasal cuticle at a strongly acute angle, a lack of horizontally directed filaments in the lower perithallus, and the lack of a stipe. This is the first record of the genus Sonderophycus in the Hawaiian Islands. Sonderophycus copusii was documented as a dominant member of the algal community at Kure Atoll, and thus may play a significant ecological role in the deep-water benthic community of Kure Atoll, along the lines of reports of deep water peyssonnelioid beds in the Mediterranean, Red Sea, and Caribbean. This study further highlights the unexplored diversity of the Peyssonneliales in Hawai‘i, and emphasizes more generally the degree of as yet undiscovered biodiversity of algae at mesophotic depths.
Algae (Macro, Turf and Crustose Coralline)
USA - Hawaii