Review paper

Asexuality and the cryptic species problem

Dudgeon, Steve; Kübler, Janet E.; West, John A.; Kamiya, Mitsunobu; Krueger-Hadfield, Stacy A.

Perspectives in Phycology Vol. 4 No. 1 (2017), p. 47 - 59

published: May 1, 2017
published online: Feb 22, 2017
manuscript accepted: Dec 8, 2016
manuscript revision received: Oct 16, 2017
manuscript revision requested: Aug 15, 2016
manuscript received: Jul 18, 2016

DOI: 10.1127/pip/2017/0070

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Abstract Genetic sequence data allows for the identification of previously imperceptible cryptic species. Cryptic species are common in algae that have few morphologically distinguishable features. Identifying cryptic species with asexual life cycles requires consideration of whether the biology of the algae meets the assumptions of the analysis used to delimit species and recognition that the mating system governs the distribution of genetic variation within and among populations. We provide examples of species complexes in Caloglossa and Mastocarpus, where delimitations of cryptic species are confounded by the occurrence of asexual strains. Obligate asexuality causes linkage of nuclear, plastidal and mitochondrial genes, shorter generation times, mutation accumulation and drift relative to the sexually reproducing metapopulations, for which most analytical tools were designed.


asexualapomicticCaloglossacryptic specieslife historymacroalgaeMastocarpussexual reproductionspecies delimitation