Comparative morphology and systematics of Chondrymenia lobata from the Mediterranean Sea and a phylogeny of the Chondrymeniaceae fam. nov. (Rhodophyta) based on rbcL sequence analyses

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The Chondrymeniaceae Rodríguez-Prieto, G. Sartoni, S.-M. Lin & Hommersand, fam. nov., is proposed for Chondrymenia lobata. Analyses of rbcL sequences place the new family in a large gigartinalean assemblage that comprises the Cystocloniaceae-Solieriaceae complex. Plants are decumbent and growth takes place by division of multiple apical cells at the margin of the blade. Thalli consist of an outer cortex of subspherical to elongate cortical cells arranged in anticlinal rows, a subcortex of cells cross-linked by lateral arms, and a large central medulla composed of primary medullary filaments intermixed with numerous rhizoidal filaments. Male stages are reported in monoecious individuals. Inactive carpogonial branches consist of a two-celled filament that is directed inwards from the supporting cell. Functional carpogonial branches are oriented outwardly, with the carpogonia and trichogynes pointed towards the thallus surface. After presumed fertilization, the carpogonium fuses with the hypogynous cell and transfers the zygote nucleus. The hypogynous cell, in turn, fuses with the supporting cell which contains many haploid nuclei. The resulting fusion cell functions as an auxiliary cell that cuts off a single gonimoblast initial, which produces the gonimoblast filaments. Gametophytic cells close to the auxiliary cell unite with it to form a placental fusion network of variable size and outline, and a placental fusion cell. Proximal gonimoblast cells fuse with the placental fusion cell, while the distal cells differentiate into branched chains of subspherical carposporangia. The superficial similarity of the outwardly developed osteolate cystocarp is responsible for Kylin's (1956) placement of Chondrymenia in his family Sarcodiaceae; however, the manner in which the placenta is formed is more like that seen in the Cystocloniaceae-Solieriaceae complex ​
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