New Species of Green Microalga Identified in Brazil

  Algae Europe December 2022
green microalga nephrocytium

The discovery resulted in phylogenetic reclassification of microalgae in the genus Nephrocytium. Credit: CCMA/UFSCar

A group led by researchers affiliated with the Phycology Laboratory at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, have discovered a new species of green microalga in a reservoir located in the northwest of the state. As a result of the discovery, microalgae of the genus Nephrocytium have been moved to an order belonging to a different taxonomic class and phylogenetically reclassified.

Green microalgae are found in freshwater and in the sea (where they are known as phytoplankton) and produce more than 80% of the oxygen present in the atmosphere. They are considered primary producers and hence the base of the food chain in aquatic environments. In addition, they have significant potential for commercial applications, such as biodiesel production.

The new species was found in a fishing pond called Muritiba, fed by a spring near the town of Tupã.

The species was isolated in 2014 and is now part of UFSCar’s Freshwater Microalgae Culture Collection (CCMA). Begun in 1977 by Armando Augusto Henriques Vieira early in his career as a professor in the Department of Botany, CCMA is one of the world’s largest and oldest collections of freshwater microalgae, with some 800 strains deposited and conserved for researchers to analyze and potentially commercialize.

The new species was named Nephrocytium vieirae as a tribute to Dr. Vieira, who has retired and is now a senior professor at the university.

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