Evolutionary relationships among species traditionally ascribed to the Siphonocladales/Cladophorales have remained unclear due to a lack of phylogenetically informative characters and extensive morphological plasticity resulting in morphological convergence. This study explores some of the diversity within the generic complex Cladophora and its siphonocladalaen allies. Twelve species of Cladophora representing 6 of the 11 morphological sections recognized by van den Hoek were analyzed along with 8 siphonocladalaen species using 18S rRNA gene sequences. The final alignment consisted of 1460 positions containing 92 phylogenetically informative substitutions. Weighting schemes (EOR weighting, combinatorial weighting) were applied in maximum parsimony analysis to correct for substitution bias. Stem characters were weighted 0.66 relative to single-stranded characters to correct for secondary structural constraints. Both weighting approaches resulted in greater phylogenetic resolution. Results confirm that there is no basis for the independent recognition of the Cladophorales and Siphonocladales. The Siphonocladales is polyphyletic, and Cladophora is paraphyletic. All analyses support two principal lineages, of which one contains predominantly tropical members including almost all siphonocladalean taxa, while the other lineage consists of mostly warm- to cold-temperate species of Cladophora.
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