Hidden diversity and phylogeographic history provide conservation insights for the edible seaweed Sargassum fusiforme in the Northwest Pacific

Zi Min Hu, Jing Jing Li, Zhong Min Sun, Xu Gao, Jian Ting Yao, Han Gil Choi, Hikaru Endo, De Lin Duan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the evolutionary processes that have created diversity and the genetic potential of species to adapt to environmental change is an important premise for biodiversity conservation. Herein, we used mitochondrial trnW-L and cox3 and plastid rbcL-S data sets to analyze population genetic variation and phylogeographic history of the brown alga Sargassum fusiforme, whose natural resource has been largely exterminated in the Asia–Northwest Pacific in the past decades. Phylogenetic trees and network analysis consistently revealed three major haplotype groups (A, B, and C) in S. fusiforme, with A and B distributed in the Japan-Pacific coast. Group C consisted of three subgroups (C1, C2, and C3) which were distributed in the Sea of Japan, the Yellow–Bohai Sea, and East China Sea, respectively. Isolation-with-migration (IMa) analysis revealed that the three groups diverged approximately during the mid-Pleistocene (c. 756–1,224 ka). Extended Bayesian skyline plots (EBSP) showed that groups A and B underwent relatively long-term stable population size despite a subsequent rapid demographic expansion, while subgroups C2 and C3 underwent a sudden expansion at c. 260 ka. FST and AMOVA detected low population-level genetic variation and high degrees of divergence between groups. The cryptic diversity and phylogeographic patterns found in S. fusiforme not only are essential to understand how environmental shifts and evolutionary processes shaped diversity and distribution of coastal seaweeds but also provide additional insights for conserving and managing seaweed resources and facilitate predictions of their responses to future climate change and habitat loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-378
Number of pages13
JournalEvolutionary Applications
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Apr 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Asia–Northwest Pacific
  • Sargassum fusiforme
  • biodiversity conservation
  • climate change
  • cryptic lineage
  • phylogeographic process

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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