Phylogeny and Systematics of the Characeae

Kenneth G. Karol and collaborators

Stoneworts are green algae in the family Characeae that include species that are common in freshwater lakes worldwide and that are ecologically important as food and habitat for invertebrates and small fish. Stoneworts are also used in habitat remediation and are important model organisms in studies of cell biophysics. Furthermore, stoneworts are closely related to the very first plants that colonized land almost 500 million years ago. Despite their importance in ecology, basic biological research, and evolution, the relationships withinthis group are very poorly known. We are studying the systematics and phylogeny of this distinctive group of green algae by using modern genomic methods to re-evaluate the taxonomy of the group. We are sampling hundreds of species and using DNA sequence data from nuclear, chloroplast, and mitochondrial genomes. The data produced are allowing us to revise the current confused classification of this group, and are providing critical data for worldwide studies of algal conservation, diversity and evolution.